The High School Student News Site of The American School in London

The Standard

The High School Student News Site of The American School in London

The Standard

Phillips outlines ambitions


Jack Phillips will take over as Interim High School Principal for the 2013-2014 school year, Head of School Coreen Hester confirmed on February 14. Phillips comes from Phoenix Country Day School in Phoenix, Arizona, where he served as High School Principal.

Phillips has worked at Phoenix Country Day, a K-12 school with around 240 students, for six years and has worked as the school’s High School Principal since 2011. He received his B.A. in Physics from Brown University and his M.A. in Music Composition from Arizona State University. Phillips is currently working on his Ph.D. in Education Leadership and Policy at Vanderbilt University.

An important part of Phillips’ plan for the upcoming year is to implement his educational philosophy. “Learning is the most complicated thing we do,” he said. “I believe students can accomplish remarkable things. We have to engage [students] now. They can impact their world now.”

Phillips came to ASL for his interview in January, which involved select members of the Student Council. He impressed students by remembering everyone’s name the first time he heard it.

Student Council Grade Representative Dariush Yazdanpanah (’15), who attended Phillips’ interview, affirmed his positive demeanor at the time.

“[Phillips] was very warm and enthusiastic throughout the interview,” he said. “He asked each student individually what their favourite subject was and who their favourite teacher was and noted down what they said.”

Phillips’ move to ASL comes at a convenient time for his family, which is also going through a period of transition. His daughter will start K-1 in the fall, and Phillips will welcome a son in July.

Phillips has been preparing for his move to London since he was informed that he got the job by watching British television shows. “I have been watching Downton Abbey and old Doctor Who episodes again,” he said.

Even though this is an interim position, he plans to work as if he will be at ASL indefinitely. “To do anything less would be a disservice to ASL,” he said. Additionally, he said that he does plan to apply for the full-time position. “I’m playing for keeps,” he said.
One of his goals is to remove the idea that the principal is above everyone else, and thereby he hopes to build an environment more conducive to communication between faculty members.
Another goal is to be as approachable as possible. He plans to be open to student feedback and hopes that all students will feel comfortable speaking to him.

As principal, Phillips will also have a say in disciplinary issues. “There are already practices in place at [ASL] and I plan to work within them,” he said.

Phillips likes to consider each disciplinary case individually; as such, he does not believe in any standard punishments. He declined to comment on any of the cases he has dealt with at Phoenix Country Day to protect the students’ identities. “I would hate to give even a hint of an impression to anyone that I might have been discussing disciplinary issues with any outside parties,” he said.

Phillips plans to take a more individualistic approach to aiding students entrenched in the college process, as well.At Phoenix Country Day, he encourages students not to just write what colleges want to hear. Instead, he wants students to find their voice and convey who they are. “A high school career should be preparation enough for the college process,” Phillips said. “Colleges are looking for authenticity [in their applicants].”

Phillips does, however, understand the concept of “second semester syndrome” for seniors and said that success is finding the right balance between school work and social life. “We have to realize that high school is eight semesters long and you are about to go off to college, but you can’t unplug completely,” he said.

Phillips is known for his affinity for technology – his master’s degree in Music Composition was partially based upon interactive technology. Phillips will take the leading role in the institution of the Bring Your Own Laptop (BYOL) program at the beginning of the next school year.

Phillips considers technology to be important, but he is not a “zealot” about it. “[Technology] is not the answer to student engagement, but to ignore technology is foolish,” he said.

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