Ms Phillips was amazing in my young impressionable eyes. And at the time, it was because she did all kinds of "cool" things. She would talk to the boys in the morning about the ins and outs of the Vancouver Canucks game the night before. Even making $0.25 bets with us on who would win. She knew that personal connection mattered. She would let us listen to music while doing seat work because she knew that some of us were just too easily distracted by our busy surroundings. She never cared if "everyone" got to do it...she understood that some of us could use the intervention to help focus. She would even let us hang around after school to not only finish our homework, but just talk about whatever was on our mind without any judgement. She listened, she sometimes offered advice, but mostly just listened.
And as I got older and decided to go into education, I often found myself thinking back to what an incredible teacher and person Ms Phillips was in my life. I was able to quickly get past the nostalgic view we can often have of our past to fully understand how important the individual and personal relationship she created with each of us truly was. All of us felt special. We all felt like we mattered. We all felt like our place in the world was important as a child and would be even more important as we grew into adulthood.
She held us accountable so we knew that consequences were a part of life. I will never forget my friend Ron and I scrubbing the walls of the school after thinking it was a good idea to write with felt pen all over them. Why I'll never forget is because Ms Phillips was out there with us, scrubbing the walls, talking to us about the importance of respecting property and the world around us. That we were better than this behaviour. That kids make mistakes but it's important to learn from those. All things I carry with me to this day.
So if you ever get the chance to go back and thank your "Ms Phillips" please do. It would mean the world to that teacher. I know I was lucky enough to thank some of the teachers who had the most profound impact on me.