Elementary teacher of the year driven by her drive to be a positive light

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, February 21, 2024

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EDITORS NOTE: The Suffolk News-Herald is doing a Q&A with all of the teachers of the year in the Suffolk Public Schools division. Today, we are writing about Elephant Fork Elementary School’s Lynnette Phillips. We asked her 20 questions and shortened this interview to some of our favorite responses.

Although only her seventh year of teaching, Elephant Fork Elementary School’s first-grade teacher Lynnette Phillips has been with Suffolk Public Schools for 10 years. 

Phillips has been married for 20 years to Kareem Phillips and the couple has four children, who she says are all products of Oakland Elementary, King’s Fork Middle and King’s Fork High School.

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Kailyn, 28, is currently an active duty member of the United States Navy, having served nearly nine years. Their oldest daughter, Layla, is a freshman at Norfolk State University, majoring in Biology, pre-professional to be a veterinarian, and is a member of the Spartan Legion as a piccolo player. Youngest daughters Kylie (Junior and runs track) and Lyah (Freshman and plays soccer), are in high school.

Helping and encouraging and mentoring young ladies to be their best selves through self-reflection and practicing positive character building is something Lynnette loves to do as Co-Leader of Ladies of Distinction at EFES.


Q: What did being named your school’s Teacher of the Year mean to you? 

A: Being Teacher of the Year is a great honor. I am truly blessed! This is validation that my passion, dedication and drive to be a positive light in the lives of others is evident.


Q: What or who inspired you to become an educator?

A: I was inspired by my culinary teacher, Ms. Kabat, to become a teacher because of her relationship with her students and seeing her passion to make a difference in the lives of others. My mother also raised me to be a giver.


Q: What are your career aspirations? 

A: My career aspirations are to step into an administration role either at the building or district level, so that I will be able to continue to impact the lives of others that will help push them into greatness.


Q: If your teaching style had a theme song, what would it be? 

A: If my teaching style was a song, it would be Can’t Stop the Feeling by Justin Timberlake. The song has an upbeat and feel-good vibe that can resonate with the idea of fostering a positive and supportive learning environment.


Q: If you could invite any historical figure to speak to your class, who would you choose and why? 

A: If Martin Luther King Jr. was alive, I would have him speak to my students. I believe that he might convey a message of unity, equality, and the importance of treating everyone with kindness and respect, which is what the entire world needs.


Q: As your students transition to the next grade or graduate, what is one key takeaway you hope they carry forward from their time in your class? 

A: As my students transition to the next grade or throughout life, I hope that they carry the love for learning we nurtured together, view challenges as opportunities to grow and mistakes as chances to learn and always treat others with respect and kindness.