Tara Phillips was elected as West High’s Teacher of the Year for 2023 – 2024, and plans on competing for District Teacher of the Year. Phillips teaches Algebra I and Honors Algebra I, and this is her 11th year teaching. Phillips is also the Assistant Varsity Cheerleading Coach, and this is her 6th year coaching.
Phillips grew up in Oneida, Tennessee, a small town roughly two hours northwest of Morristown, Tennessee. After graduating from Oneida High School, Phillips went on to receive an undergraduate degree in Mathematics from the University of Tennessee. Phillips then went on to receive a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Carson-Newman University. In her spare time, Phillips enjoys spending time with her family, friends, and her dog, Ozzie. Additionally, Phillips enjoys reading, playing video games, and all things Disney.
Phillips described some of the challenges she and other teachers face, stating “I think one of the most challenging aspects of being a teacher is the time commitment involved. We work beyond the 8am – 3pm schedule. This includes planning and grading assignments, but also making sure that we are meeting the needs of our students.” In addition, Phillips detailed how she keeps students engaged with learning, sharing “Math doesn’t tend to be most student’s favorite subject, so it can be challenging to get students engaged. I try my best to find ways to connect what we are learning with something that is relatable to my students. I also try to find ways to make the learning more fun, such as doing some activities or review games.”
Phillips shared her thoughts on being elected as West High’s Teacher of the Year, claiming “I am extremely grateful for being recognized as Teacher of the Year. There are so many amazing teachers at West High School, so it is an honor to be considered among one of them.” Phillips closed by offering advice to those looking to become teachers, “Don’t give up. There will be hard days and days where you may think that teaching is not something that you want to do, but somewhere along the way you will have that one student that will make it worth it. Or you will have that day that shows you that you are making a difference.”