The Smoke Signal

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British native among new teachers at PV

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Mr. Daniel Phillips is one of PV's new teachers this year.

Mr. Daniel Phillips is one of PV's new teachers this year.

Molly Heintze

Molly Heintze

Mr. Daniel Phillips is one of PV's new teachers this year.

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The day after Mr. Daniel Phillips’s final high school exam, he left rural southeast England to temporarily move to America for a summer job in New Hampshire. Now, years later, he is back in the United States teaching English at PV.

This school year, there are other new teachers alongside Phillips: Ms. Jamie Marootian Miller, Ms. Pamela Schwartz, Ms. Danielle Nelson, and Ms. Nari Dabis. Schwartz and Marootian Miller previously worked exclusively at Hills, but this year Marootian Miller will be swinging between the two buildings and Schwartz will only be at PV. Additionally, there are a few other new teachers who were hired later in the summer: Mr. William Crispino, Ms. Laura Ely, and Ms. Jimena Ladino. Ladino will start teaching in October.

Phillips’s passion for teaching started with tennis. It has been a part of his life since his early teenage years when he used to work in camps teaching the sport.

“[I moved to America when I was eighteen because] I got a position coaching tennis in New Hampshire at a summer camp,” Phillips said. “I was definitely keen to explore and get rid of the shackles of home.”

Phillips received his coaching position at the New Hampshire camp through an organization called Camp America. Camp America is a company that sends people from other countries to work at summer camps in the United States.

“Tennis really opened some doors for me,” Phillips said.

After spending a summer in America, Phillips decided he wanted to go to college in the United States. He attended Bloomsburg University in Pennsylvania in 2005.

While attending Bloomsburg, Phillips did many outdoor expeditions, one being rock climbing. These experiences led to Phillips’s interest in expedition management.

His endeavours in outdoor expeditions led him to move to Scotland after he graduated because it was an ideal area for outdoor activities and mountaineering. While he was in Scotland, Phillips got his masters degree in Outdoor Education. With his masters, Phillips would take students on expeditions, such as camping in the woods and trips to the mountains.

After two years of teaching outdoor education, Phillips decided that he wanted to be more involved in the classroom, so he pursued a career as an English teacher.

“To me, English always felt like a natural partner to all these outdoor expeditions,” Phillips said. “When you go on an expedition, you undergo some level of transformation, similar to one that a character undergoes.”

Phillips returned to the United States this past July. He decided to apply to teach at PV because he was already familiar with the Bergen County area since his wife used to work in Park Ridge. He says it is a “clean slate which is a nice feeling.” Recently he got his New Jersey driver’s license and is now moving into his New Jersey house.

“I knew that he was very strong knowledge-based wise,” supervisor of the English Department, Mrs. Valerie Mattessich said. “I thought his degree in outdoor experiential learning was fascinating. I would think as a teacher that would help you see teaching and the classroom in a different way.”

While some may find it ironic that Phillips is a teacher in a class focused around American history, he says American and British students learn a lot of the same things. For example, both country’s students read “Of Mice and Men” and learn about World War 1 and World War 2. Phillips hopes he “can offer some new or contrasting perspectives” on these topics to his students.

“This is a new experience and culture for me,” Phillips said. “The best way to learn how things work here is asking my students. I will learn a lot from them. I hope to break down the barrier of being a foreign teacher to just becoming a teacher.”

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British native among new teachers at PV