Ethnic Gem: Kimberly Phillips
Updated: Sep 11, 2019
School: Barnard Environmental Studies Magnet School
New Haven, Connecticut
By Samantha Williams, Managing Editor / Sr. Contributing Writer
Every teacher has their favorite grade to teach. For many reasons, Ethnic Gem, Kimberly Phillips prefers teaching 4th and 5th grade.
Kimberly’s teaching career was inspired after receiving a four-year scholarship to Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU), that her mother accepted on her behalf! But momma knew best, and Kimberly absolutely fell in love with teaching.
Teaching 4th and 5th grade is Kimberly’s preference because, at this age, students are old enough to work independently, and they are moldable and willing to learn. In addition to teaching 4th and 5th graders, Kimberly has also served as a math and reading intervention instructor. Kimberly is also certified to be an Administrator in Connecticut and has acted as the Administrator of her current school.
According to Kimberly, the first 6-8 weeks of school are the most critical. She uses this time to build the classroom culture and define routines and expectations – all of which are vital to both her growth as a teacher and her students’ academic success. During these weeks, Kimberly and her students learn about each other, and Kimberly uses the insights she gains during this time to guide her classroom expectations.
It is also important that her students know she cares about them as people. Kimberly stated, “You don’t know what happens to the children before you greet them in the morning. Your students need to feel comfortable enough to tell you if something is wrong in their lives, and students won’t learn if they are thinking about negative things.”
Recalling her favorite memories, Kimberly shared that during Black History Month, her students were adopted by a community member. He played a Jeopardy game with the students, where he featured members from the community, including a newspaper columnist. To her surprise, Kimberly’s students were featured in a newspaper article written by the columnist. The next year, the community member returned for another game of Jeopardy and blessed 2 students with new bikes.
Kimberly plans to save the world, starting with the students in her classroom. She knows minority children can achieve anything if high expectations are set and children are held accountable. Kimberly uses STEM and technology in her classrooms to set academic expectations, and several of her students are now certified student coders who have coded mini video games and pictures. Seeing the joy in her students’ eyes when they are successful with their coding activities reaffirms Kimberly’s passion for teaching.
Kimberly’s commitment to her students is a trait all teachers should have and
we are excited to acknowledge her as an Ethnic GEM!