Written By: May Walton ’18
Dr. Jared Phillips, our Anacapa visiting scholar for the second trimester, has brought an incredibly positive and wise attitude to our campus. Born in Springdale, Arkansas, Dr. Phillips has had a very interesting life, and we are extremely lucky to have him as a teacher.
What do you think is something noteworthy about your childhood?
“I spent a whole lot of time outdoors and a whole lot of time reading. I think that the combination of those two things are what helped me form my view on the world.”
What kind of student were you in high school?
“I was horrible. I never did my homework, and I was bored all of the time. I wouldn’t work hard and I would skip class frequently.”
What did you do before you came to Thacher, and when and where did you meet your wife?
“I worked, and still work, at an NGO. I’m the program manager for a group that works on food insecurity and injustice–and I taught at the University of Arkansas.
“I met my wife in the spring of 2005, and we were both working at an outdoor gear store in Arkansas.”
What is your favorite thing about Thacher?
“The students. The students are amazing. I think it has to do a lot with how the school is set up. But I’ve rarely come across such a deep, genuinely inquisitive and capable set of students.”
Dr. Phillips also mentioned that he enjoyed formal dinner. Although some of us Thacher students may find that hard to believe, he told me that he enjoyed the idea of sitting down as a community. A slow, mixed grade meal had something “great old world about it. And [he] liked that.”
What do you think is something that we as a community can improve on?
“That’s a hard question. I think one of the things Thacher maybe improve on is remembering that it is an isolated community and is in its own little world, but I think that it is already addressing that. Just remembering that the boarding school world, and that kind of pathway into elite colleges is not the reality for 90% of the world. So engaging, and working really hard to engage students in a multitude of experiences to highlight how the position you are able to have in the Thacher community allows you to impact the world. I think that Thacher is already doing that, but it’s one of those things that you can never do enough of. I think that through the Global Ethics program and through all of the study abroad options here, there is already an effort to do that.”
What is one piece of advice that you would give to Thacher students?
“Don’t take it so seriously. Don’t panic. My reasoning is that it doesn’t matter. What you become in your life doesn’t matter on your schooling— it does a little bit— but it doesn’t matter if you stress out in high school or even if you stress out in college. You’re gonna make a life for yourself based on how you deal with different things, based on what you personally decide to get out of it. So I went to a public high school and I skipped class all of the time because it wasn’t something that was important to me. I went to a public school for college and for my doctorate, but I worked all over the world. I do all kinds of different things and I meet all kinds of different people that work in high-level unit jobs. What matters is the intentionality you bring to life.”