And, Now, The Rest of The Story
My name is Jeffrey W. Phillips and I graduated from Rutgers University with a BA in Fine Art. During my senior year at Rutgers, I took computer graphics which, in the late 80’s, was a burgeoning field. That said, my love was (and has been) fine art; specifically, a love of painting.
I followed the future and worked in graphic design for a time, then web design and finally, in 2004, I took a unique opportunity as Project Manager/Creative Director for a small internet firm in Philadelphia. Sadly, LightSky closed that office and, since I did not want to relocate to Indiana, I decided to make a change.
At times during my 16 years of working in the creative industries, the thought of teaching would bubble to the top of my consciousness; however, it took a while for the seed of that notion to germinate, take root and flower. My wife agreed that, with the closing of the Philly office of LightSky, the time may be ripe for me to transition into teaching. Providence assisted us one day when I conducted an internet search that turned up an Alternate Route course offered through Rowan University. I jumped at the opportunity (and the fact that it was free through a State grant didn’t hurt either).
Of course, during those years, my wife and I had children. We originally planned for the wifey to stay home and homeschool our kids, but my transition into education (and a $30k pay cut, OUCH!) modified that plan. Today she serves as a part-time special education teacher at an elementary school about 15 minutes from us. Our plan to homeschool our children has remained firm.
Jump forward seven years and here I am. I still work at the same charter school in Camden where I started out as a middle- and high school art teacher. Boy, do I remember those early days! I took over mid-year from another teacher who gave notice two months into the job. Overall, it was a tough transition for me. The previous art teacher was very popular and I was bringing in new ideas that required more discipline than the students were ready for. But, in the end, I prevailed and developed some wonderful relationships with students who still keep in touch.
During the 2012-13 school year, I took advantage of a new building project that allowed me to teach both high school and elementary school (K-4). What a transition! Fortunately, I had the help of a veteran (and incredibly organized!) elementary art teacher. I am all elementary now as they couldn’t fit me into the high school rotation because of the change to block scheduling. So, now, 480 (phew!) elementary kids call me ‘Mr. Phil’ and give me hugs in the hallways. Love it!