Jana Phillips ’23 initially decided to become an educator because of her lifelong passion for education and making a positive impact on young minds.
Now, as a first-grade teacher in a rural district, she gets to do just that.
“It’s been an incredible experience, and I’ve had the privilege of helping young students learn and grow,” she said.
Phillips chose to attend Newman for her elementary education degree because of its strong education program.
“My experience within the elementary education major was fantastic,” she said. “I gained valuable knowledge and skills that prepared me well for my teaching career.”
Because Phillips had an already full plate when she enrolled, she was grateful for the outreach program.
“Balancing full-time work, full-time studies and family responsibilities was challenging, but it taught me time management and resilience,” she said. “Having a strong support system was crucial.”
This past spring, Phillips was recognized with Newman University’s Sister Susan Reeves Award during the annual Academic Awards Convocation.
This award is in honor of Sister Susan Reeves, who taught in and chaired the Newman’s education department before she died prematurely of cancer in 2007. She was also the founding author of the School of Education’s Conceptual Framework, which is still utilized today.
The award is given to an outreach education student who embodies the Conceptual Framework, much like Reeves, and is a knowledgeable, caring and reflective educator who shows compassion to all students.
All those words and more describe Phillips.
“This award means so much to me, as not only was I a full-time student, I was also employed full time, and have young children and a husband to take care of along with many other duties,” she said. “It shows my children that you’re never too old or busy to accomplish your dreams.”
When she reflects on her journey thus far, Phillips is filled with gratitude for the support she received while at Newman.
“Newman University will always hold a special place in my heart and has shaped me into the teacher I am,” she said. “They value their students and go above and beyond to help all succeed. I am beyond thankful for the time that I had at the university and all the professors I had. God has truly blessed each of them with the gift of teaching.”
In the future, Phillips hopes to return to school for a master’s degree while continuing to make a difference in the lives of her students.
“My advice to current Newman students aspiring to enter a similar profession is to stay passionate, be adaptable and never stop learning,” she said. “Teaching is a rewarding but challenging career, so persevere and stay dedicated to your students.”
Explore Newman outreach programs
Newman University continues to broaden its educational horizons with outreach programs located in western Kansas, southeast Kansas and Oklahoma.