Shelli Phillips Staff Photo
Subjects Taught
English Literature/Composition, Tenth Grade Literature/Composition, World Literature/Composition Honors


I graduated from Valdosta State University in 2000 with a B.A. in English, Minor in Creative Writing, and a B.S. Ed. in Secondary Education with Emphasis in English.  I entered the online graduate program through Troy University in 2007, but I put that on hold when my first child was born later that year.  I received my gifted endorsement in 2016, and I hope to finish graduate studies and earn my master's degree in English by the end of next school year.


I began my teaching career in 2001.  I was placed in the Tift County school system for my student teaching in 2000, and I continued on there for many years after graduation from Valdosta State University.  I built and maintained a thriving theatre program at Tift County High School producing nine shows a year, while still teaching English courses.  When an English position opened at Cook High School in 2014, I jumped at the chance to return to my alma mater and teach in the same school system where my children were attending school.  I am truly enjoying being back in the Hornet's Nest.


            At the beginning of each semester, regardless of the class I am teaching, I tell students, “You are in charge of your own education and you are the only one who can control what you do and do not learn.”  My charge to them is to stop being passive “sitters-in-desks” and to start actively soaking up and applying the knowledge that is being apportioned to them each day.  I remind them of how lucky they are to live in a country where they have not only the privilege but the responsibility to go to school each day and to receive an education that is free:  free of persecution, free of segregation of race or gender, and free of judgment.  I challenge my students to become industrious laborers in their diligent conquest to change into the adults they will one day become.

            Years ago, a male student walked into my classroom and sat down awkwardly in the very back.  His head was down; he was not talking to his other classmates.  He heard this speech about the privilege and responsibility of education, and he saw the content map for my drama class’s semester.  This boy went home scared to death, and he told his mom that he could not do it.  He said, “You will have to get me out of that class!”  His mom came up to the school, and she spoke with our guidance department.  She told the guidance counselor of her son’s battle with depression over the past several years; she told her that he was just beginning to come out of the fog of depression; she told her that this would be a major set back for her son.  The guidance counselor called me into her office and told me what his mom said, and I told her that my class was exactly what this boy needed.  I explained that my class would give him the skills to come out of this and to succeed.  I assured her that I would modify his instruction so that he would not have to go on stage until he was ready; he actually spent the first few weeks of my class working on small projects on his own or with a partner.  When we began mime, he came to me and said he wanted to give it a try; he was scared to death, but he did it.  This male student has long since graduated, but he spent almost every semester of his high school career in my drama classroom.  He met friends in my class, he grew, he changed, and he started to smile.  At parent night his Senior year, his mom came into my room and hugged me.  She said, “You have changed my child’s life.  Thank you.”

            I believe that a teacher’s job is to educate the student.  Education, though, is not just about the subject one teaches. It is about teaching the child to be an intellectual, courageous person.  When I teach, I tell my students stories to help them relate what we are learning to real life.  When I teach, I am passionate because if I am not passionate, my students will not be.  When I teach, I ask my students what they think because part of being an American is forming your own opinion about something.  When I teach, I have students jump in feet first and discover it on their own.  It scares them to death at first because they are accustomed to being given the answer, but I strongly believe that the things we truly learn in life are the things we discover on our own. 

            Some of my students dislike me because they want to be passive “sitters-in-desks,” and they want their education to pass over them – not be a part of them. Some of my students love me because they have a new appreciation for the acquisition of knowledge when they leave my classroom.  I believe that my job as a teacher is ultimately to inspire students to want to learn – the rest is up to them.