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April 28, 2005

County native is first deaf student-teacher to work at Prince George High School

From: Petersburg Progress Index - Petersburg,VA,USA - Apr 28, 2005

By: Susan Robertson , Staff Writer

PRINCE GEORGE - Wade Phillips can't hear the morning announcements or the roar in the hallway during class changes, but that hasn't stopped him from addressing a classroom full of rowdy teenagers.

Phillips, a county native, is currently pursuing a master's degree in secondary deaf education at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, N.Y. He will spend 10 weeks student-teaching English, history and biology to deaf and hard of hearing students at Prince George High School as part of his program requirement.

"The students are just wonderful," said Phillips. "I feel like we have something in common and that they respect me."

Prince George houses the regional program for deaf and hard of hearing students. The program serves to educate students from within the county as well as from the Tri-Cities and as far away as Greenville County.

"All the deaf and hard of hearing students in the area come here to Prince George," said Cathy Michaelis, lead interpreter with the program.

Phillips is the first deaf student-teacher to ever work at PGHS. He was born deaf and started in the county's deaf and hard of hearing program at Carson Elementary School at the age of 2. He graduated from the program at PGHS in 2000 and went on to attend Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. where he received a bachelor's of science degree in chemistry.

"When I started college I had no idea what I wanted to major in," said Phillips, 24. "But my family encouraged me to become a teacher."

Principal Dave Clark is one of many school officials who is excited that Phillips has come home to student-teach at his alma mater.

"It's a credit to our teachers here that students who have come through our hearing impaired program then come back and give back to the school," said Clark.

Phillips has always loved school and he plans to teach at the high school level when he graduates from RIT.

He wants to live in the Washington area after completing graduate school and wants to become a biology teacher at the Model Secondary School for the Deaf in Washington.

"It is one of the largest deaf schools in America and they have more courses to offer the students," said Phillips.

But he isn't sure if teaching will become his career. His real interest is in going back to school after doing some teaching and furthering his education in hopes of becoming a guidance counselor or school principal.

* Susan Robertson may be reached at 732-3456, ext. 272.

©The Progress-Index 2005