Phillips Bringing Positivity to Her Classroom

Katie Huffman


Katie Huffman

Working with a student, Phillips discusses things they learned within the book they are reading in class, Fahrenheit 451. This is the first year Phillips is teaching sophomore English.

Katie Huffman, Editor-in-Chief

She’s always “sparkling” in the classroom.

English teacher Abigail Phillips was the first Kentucky SENT (Supporting and Elevating New Teachers) Sparkler last year, and is now moving into her fourth year of teaching. 

Phillips has been working with kids and in a classroom since she was younger. She knew that teaching was her calling, and is still advancing in her own education. She creates a nurturing environment for her students and impresses that she cares about them and their education. 

Math teacher Christi Abshire is Phillips’ mom and is going into her second year teaching at the same school as her daughter. “My mom is a big source of my inspiration. I used to, after school, drive over to where she taught and I would help her grade papers or just talk about different teaching things because she has been teaching for over twenty years. She’s really good and patient with kids and that’s what I always aspire to have: a compassionate heart while still being able to teach and reach kids,” said Phillips. 

Abshire has seen Phillips’ interest in teaching since she was younger. “When she was little she used to play school, like a lot of kids do, but she really did like it. I can’t really remember when she decided that [teaching] was it, but it was early. Then she went straight to college, studied it and did it,” said Abshire. 

“I’m a firm believer that everyone has a calling and that’s what it [teaching] was to me. It was never about a job or a paycheck. When I was in highschool I worked with preschool kids and I ran an afterschool program with them and I loved helping them and seeing them grow and seeing those lightbulb moments, which sounds so cliche. I knew from that point I wanted to be a teacher, but I didn’t know what grade level. As soon as I got to undergrad, I knew I couldn’t blow noses and tie shoes all day long,” said Phillips. 

Phillips went to Georgetown College for two years, but ended up receiving her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Louisville. She will obtain her Masters in Education during December of this year from the University of the Cumberlands. 

One of the main reasons she loves working at Bullitt East is because of the people and the environment. “I feel more supported here than the school I taught at for six months. I feel like people have your back, staff and students. I don’t feel like I’m out here hanging out to dry. It’s just a good place to work,” said Phillips. 

Phillips also incorporates the family-like atmosphere into her own classroom. English teacher Melissa Gordon said, “She has a very nurturing personality with the students and ensures that they understand the material, and until she gets that she doesn’t feel comfortable moving forward.”

Going into her fourth year, she can think of some things she would have told herself coming in as a brand new teacher. “Ask more questions, and not be afraid to introduce myself to people. I had it in my head that they were busy enough themselves and the truth is, people here do care, but they don’t know what you need unless you ask,” said Phillips. 

She cares about her students, and tries to shape her lessons to best fit their needs. “I just try to make sure my students know that I care about them, and I’m not going to let them drown in the sea of school work until they get it,” said Phillips. She also takes into consideration feedback from her students to improve her teaching for future classes. 

“Sometimes it’s getting feedback from students and hearing those things you don’t want to hear, like what didn’t work. But what was awesome, like for example, the feedback I got for AP Literature, is the opportunity to revamp and pull new ideas instead of just doing the same thing over again,” said Phillips. 

Abshire believes Phillips possesses the qualities it takes to be a good teacher. “She knows her stuff, like English, but other than that she’s got the compassion, she cares about the kids, she likes knowing her students. She’s so enthusiastic about it, she likes to make it interesting. But I think the main thing that makes her a good teacher is that she really does love her students,” said Abshire. 

Kentucky SENT is a new mentoring program for teachers in the state. After budget cuts resulted in the removal of KTIP (Kentucky Teacher Internship Program), there wasn’t a program to help out new teachers. The Kentucky SENT website, it states, “We want to support and elevate our new teachers, and help them keep that spark going.” Phillips was nominated by Assistant Principal Kari Stewart, and was the first teacher in the state to receive the honor. 

“I was the first one in Kentucky to be nominated for that award. Apparently they consider three year teachers still new teachers, which is good because I still feel new. It was for being innovative and ‘sparkling’ in the classroom,” said Phillips. 

In order to help out new teachers, Phillips crafted a new mentor program last year to help teachers settle in and make sure they have the resources they need. “Teachers were paired with another teacher so they had a go-to person and they had a list of everything they think they would ask. That was my baby, because like I said, my first year I wish I knew to ask more questions and help people know they had people they could go to,” said Phillips. English teacher Leo Craven is now in charge of the mentor program, so it does not look the same for this school year. 

Phillips has had her fair share of good days, and even bad. Her recent struggles and life experiences have changed some of the ways she feels she can relate to her students. “I always say that everyone has bad days and everybody’s going through stuff, but actually going through stuff has made me more empathetic. There are days when my pregnancy hormones get in the way and I have a shorter fuse, but just with the passing of my sister and then fighting for my niece’s rights and making sure she has a place to live, just opens your eyes to the struggles that these kids face everyday and we don’t even know. It gives me more time to relate to them,” said Phillips. 

“In every way I am proud of her. She’s a good mom to her niece, she’s about to be a good mom to her child, she’s a great teacher, she’s a good friend to me, not just as my daughter, she’s a good friend, too,” said Abshire. 

Aside from her school life, Philips is expecting a baby girl and is looking to go on maternity leave towards the end of September.