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Teachers are Heroes: Elaine Phillips pushes students past disabilities

Published on Friday, August 31, 2018

Ms. Elaine Phillips

Ms. Elaine Phillips (BCSD photo)

A hero teacher’s impact is visible. In the case of Ms. Elaine Phillips at Hanahan High School, her coworkers and administrators say you can see it in the hallways, in the cafeteria and at school celebrations. 

Ms. Phillips’ teaches students with special needs, and they are embedded in the Hanahan Hawk culture. 

“Her students are very visible here on the campus, which positively impacts our school,” said Assistant Principal Alison Thornley. 

Elaine Phillips said she realized her calling when she was in college. She was working at a summer camp and a group home at the time, assisting small children, teens and adults. 

Among her favorite moments are when she is able to watch her students develop independence and mature into functioning adults. 

“My proudest moments are when I’m changing inappropriate behaviors of more challenging students so they become successful within the school environment and community,” she said. 

Ms. Thornley said what makes Ms. Phillips successful in that regard is her greatest asset – love. 

“She truly loves her students.  You can see this in her classroom and when she is working with the students as a group or individually. She makes positive connections with her students’ parents because she knows that is what’s in the best interest for her students,” Ms. Thornley said. 

Patience – it’s what Ms. Phillips believes contributes to her ability to be an effective teacher. She adapts well to change and always attempts a kind approach to a problem. She credits her parents with teaching her how to patient and kind. 

“I’m nonjudgmental, which makes people comfortable to talk to me,” she said. “I also show empathy towards others.” 

Ms. Phillips also encourages other teachers, especially those teaching students with special needs, to also practice patience and kindness. 

“I feel these are qualities needed to work with the special needs population,” she said. “I believe in pushing my students past their disabilities in order to show their abilities. I believe in teaching respect and teaching responsibility.” 

Ms. Phillips is a graduate of Spartanburg Methodist College. She also obtained a degree in special education from Winthrop University and a master’s in special education from Converse College.

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