In the spring of 2000, Liz Phillips (E&H Class of 2003 and 2006) found herself on the campus of Emory & Henry College searching for the office of Dr. Bob Raines.
Several years earlier, it was the late Dr. Raines who looked her in the eye and told her she was crazy to do anything else with her life but to teach. She was born to do it, he said.
As she walked into his third floor office on that spring day in 2000, he simply looked at her and said, “It took you long enough.”
That journey to a job that Phillips has called a dream has culminated in her selection as the winner of this year’s 2011 McGlothlin Award for Teaching Excellence in the secondary education category.
There were no prepared remarks when she was called to the podium to accept her award from Tom McGlothlin (E&H Class of 1968), President of the McGlothlin Foundation.
“If you would have told the seventeen-year-old version of me that one day I would be standing at a podium accepting such an award, I would have laughed,” Phillips said.
Phillips is a literacy specialist who teaches English Language Arts 7 at Wallace Middle School, which is located on the edge of Bristol, Virginia.
In 2010-2011, two prizes of $25,000 were made available from the McGlothlin Foundation to award a Kindergarten - Grade 5 public school teacher and a Middle/High School public school teacher who excel in their fields. This award is intended to recognize innovative full-time classroom teachers with at least five years of experience from core curriculum areas who have not previously won major awards in education.
The McGlothlin Foundation was created in 1998 to support worthy causes in higher education, health care and the arts in southwest Virginia, West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, and northeast Tennessee.
The prize comes with the requirement that $10,000 is to be used within a year for international travel to broaden the thinking and experience of the winning teachers, further enhancing their excellence as professional educators.
Phillips plans to travel in and around the United Kingdom in late June. While there she plans to visit major art and literary landmarks including the Glastonbury Ruins, Rudyard Kipling’s Garden, and Cambridge to name just a few.
She has been an active researcher and has worked with E&H professors Dr. Herb Thompson and Dr. Janet Justice-Crickmer and Smyth County principal Edwina Richardson on margin note methods. She is a popular presenter at Virginia Middle School Association conferences at the state level and has presented at the Virginia Association of Teachers of English. She hopes to present at the National Middle School Association Conference and at the National Writing Project/National Council of Teachers of English Conference this fall.
Phillips is employed by Washington County Public Schools and resides in Abingdon with her husband, Curt, and daughters Emily Sarah (E&H Class of 2008) and Amanda.