SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — Each day, it’s a promise to be great in Van Phillips Jr.'s fifth- and sixth-grade classes at Cherokee Park Elementary School in Shreveport.
Before classwork even begins, students recite the Dreamer’s Pledge, written by Phillips.
It’s a promise to dream, to stay committed to the dream and have faith in the dream.
Phillips’ unique and engaging style has paid off in his four years of teaching. He has seen big increases in his students’ scores on state tests.
The educator has something called 60 seconds of engagement. In less than a minute, he can change the mood.
During the first couple weeks of school, he gave an exercise about eliminating doubt, fear and apprehension. Students wrote their fears on a sheet of paper, folded it, then tore it up.
Then Phillips instructed them to throw the pieces into the air. At that point going forward, the fears were erased.
He constantly tells his students they can do anything. And Phillips says he wants his students to be above average.
His room is plastered with inspirational quotes from the likes of President Barack Obama and motivational speaker Michael Eric Dyson.
“One year, we were getting off to a rough start, and I started implementing these famous quotes,” Phillips explained.
Soon after, English and social studies test scores grew by large margins. The first year, students in his class raised their performance on the English tests by 24 points. Social studies increased by nearly 40 points.
“My classroom, just the vibe is to enhance the dreams of our young students," Phillips said in explaining how he loves what he does.
"So often, we get so boggled down in the curriculum, us teachers forget to teach the students how to dream.”
He added, “I teach because it is something God has blessed me for as far as a gift.”
Phillips and several of his students joined Domonique Benn and Adria Goins in the KSLA Cafe. They dig deeper into the conversation of the dreaded common core standards, testing and how he has had so much success.
Watch the segment at 12:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 19, on the KSLA News 12 Facebook page.
Don’t forget to set a reminder to notify you at minutes before the segment starts.