Rylee Booher/Rider Media

Schlonda Phillips was surprised when she was announced as Rider’s teacher of the year.

Phillips named Rider teacher of the year

March 9, 2023

It’s like any other day as an educator. The kids in the back are making trouble again, it’s an exhausted feeling from a late night of grading. 

You’re just trying to keep all the kids focused on their English assignment. Then all of a sudden, an announcement comes on declaring that you’ve been chosen by your cohorts as an example of excellence for the school.

Schlonda Phillips, who has been at Rider for five of her 10 years as a teacher, recently felt that experience, being named Rider’s teacher of the year. 

“It’s definitely a confirmation for all the hard work I’ve been putting forth,” Phillips said. “I feel appreciated and noticed. It’s definitely an honor to be chosen among my colleagues.”

Phillips was caught off guard when the announcement came last week. 

“I feel like there are so many other teachers,” Phillips said. “I literally was not even thinking about me being teacher of the year, it wasn’t even on my mind. I just know so many other deserving teachers. So it means the world to me.”

While Phillips was caught like a deer in headlights, English department head Heather Preston has been waiting for this to happen for years.

“I have been secretly wanting Mrs. Phillips to win this award for at least a minimum of three years, so I was overjoyed when I found out that she had won it,” Preston said. “It’s been a long time coming, she definitely deserves the recognition that she has been receiving this year, and I’m so thankful to the teachers in the building, that her peers voted for her. I’m really thankful everyone has seen the hard work that she’s putting in.”    

Phillips, who this year teaches Honors English 1 and 2 plus AP English 3, has always had a knack for English Language arts, even when she was a little girl.

“It’s been a talent I’ve had, like a gift. I taught my little brothers and sisters how to read, I loved playing school as a kid,” she said. “It’s something God has equipped me with, and I feel like I’m good with it.”

To Phillips, nothing is more satisfying than when she sees a problem click inside the head of one of her students.

“My favorite thing about teaching is when I see a kid get it,” she said. “They struggle through it and don’t understand it, and then they finally do.”

And according to Preston, no one is better than Phillips at helping walk through the problem with students.

“She builds incredible lessons, she is an expert at breaking really difficult skills down to where they are more manageable for students, and because of that we can push our students much farther,” Preston said. “Because of that she has a wonderful ability to build relationships with students, and probably the best sense of humor in the building.”

Not everyone enjoys English class, and Phillips knows this, but she tries her best to have a good classroom environment for those who don’t.

“My other favorite thing about teaching is when I have students come back to me after years, and tell me what the class meant to them,” she said. “I know not everybody likes English, but when they at least can come back and appreciate what happened in my classroom.”


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Beckham Nobles, Copy Editor

Beckham Nobles is a junior who's a copy editor and likes reading and writing. He also loves learning history and philosophy. He loves being with his Aussie...

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