Nathaniel Phillips’ Farewell Letter 2020

By Nathaniel Phillips '20

In lieu of chromebook returns being today, I feel as though this is a marking of my final day of senior year. While I will still be in contact through my phone on Remind, Google Classroom, Outlook, and virtually everything the school may use, I think it is within my best interests to do this while I won’t have to struggle with my tiny phone keyboard. All of you who are receiving this email may not know or remember me; however, after going through all of the staff at each school, I found all who I remember. If you don’t recall my name or can’t find my face, I would be more than happy to send a photo of myself at the age you would have seen me strolling the halls you worked in.

In case any of you need context for who I am in relation to you, I was in the following classrooms and schools:
2007-08: Mrs. Exley’s kindergarten class (Oakview)
2008-09: Mrs. Mikulski’s 1st grade class (Oakview)
2009-10: Mrs. Toriano’s 2nd grade class (Oakview)
2010-11: Mrs. Clark’s 3rd grade class (Greenfields)
2011-12: Mrs. Sherman’s 4th grade class (Greenfields)
2012-13: Mrs. Donahue’s 5th grade class (WDMS)
2013-14: Class 6A (WDMS)
2014-15: Class 7A(WDMS)
2015-16: Class 8A (WDMS)
2016-17: WDHS
2017-18: WDHS
2018-19: WDHS
2019-20: WDHS

To all of the teachers and faculty,

Thank you. I will be the first to admit that when it comes to the real world, as much as I may think I do, I know nothing. I have looked up to all of you and many more for the past 14 years, some even longer, and I have nothing to show by it but success, that success being my living, breathing body that stands today. Looking past all of the awards and honors I may or may not have received, all of the friends I may or may not have made, and all of the memories I may or may not have created, I walked into Oakview Elementary’s own Mrs. Exley’s kindergarten Class of 2007-08 with my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles backpack, light-up sneakers, a lunchbox for snacktime, and lacking the ability to tie my sneakers, but now I’m walking out of the high school with the Class of 2020 (metaphorically, of course, with our current situation) with the same backpack I’ve had since 4th grade, big boy sneakers that sadly don’t light up, my sister’s lunchbox (her boyfriend didn’t want to use a girl’s lunchbox so I traded… his loss though because it’s cute as heck), my own car keys, and the ability to tie the shoes that are going to walk me from my car onto my own college’s campus. That kind of change doesn’t happen overnight. It took years and years of making one decision after another and proceeding further and further, no matter if the decision before was right or wrong. With that being said, the reality is that I couldn’t have, actually wouldn’t have, gotten to this point of my life and been at the level that I am without the daily sacrifices year after year made by each and every one of you, no matter how minimal those sacrifices may have been. I might even go as far to say that I’ve become a role model for many of my fellow classmates, both younger and older, based on my actions during my school career in this district. Among the thousands upon thousands of students that have gone, and will go, through the same experience that I did in this district, I have told myself since I first felt this way in elementary school that one day I would make sure every teacher knew how much I felt they cared about me as an individual. I originally thought of school and teachers as a whole as construction workers (This was elementary school so bear with me). I thought of each teacher as a construction worker and each grade level was a box of screws. Each school year consisted of the worker opening the box, seeing all identical screws, and not caring which screw they grabbed and put in the wood because they were all the same in their eyes. So originally, I felt that the teachers just saw each class as one unit instead of 20 completely different and unique individuals (or in the case of my AP Chemistry class… 3 individuals). Nowadays I sit and try to figure out what I was thinking because I was wrong. I never imagined that each year I would get a brand new set of teachers I never had before and have each of them care for me as if I was his or her own child. Even teachers that I never had for any class still showed me the same compassion. It is that care and compassion I received which turned me off of being an Orthopedic Surgeon/Physician and turned me onto working towards a High School/College level teacher. Although I am still working out the kinks and finalizing the papers, I will be attending Rowan University and not stopping until I receive my Master’s Degrees for a Triple Major in Subject-Matter Education for Biological Science, Chemistry, and Physics plus whatever Minors I may or may not decide to get. That dream would not have come to light without each and every faculty member’s efforts towards the success of the school district, thus my success as well, and I would give my life to thank you all for such. When I was younger, I couldn’t wait to graduate and be rid of the hassle I felt school was, but as the clock ticks toward that moment, I can’t bear to watch it. I wish I could hug and give a proper farewell to everyone, but this will have to do for right now. I will say it now and many times more in the future: this is not the last you will see or hear of me. All of you have become my family, and the first rule of family is to hold them close, so I will be back as often as I can be, without stepping on any toes, to make sure that all is well with everyone. As much as I don’t want this to end, sooner or later it must as all things do. A final thank you to all of you that have looked after me and shaped me into the person I am today, and I wish you all the best of luck with your careers, retirements, family, and lives to the fullest extent. If any of you ever need anything (I am being completely serious), I’m just an email, text, or phone call away and then I’m here.

My Deepest Gratitudes,
Nathaniel Phillips