Phillips surprises Stilwell seniors with new Chromebooks
Cherokee Nation citizen and educator Faith Phillips, standing left, works with one of her senior English classes on an assignment on Oct. 1 at Stilwell High School in Stilwell. Phillips recently raised funds to purchase Chromebooks for her students to use in the classroom. LINDSEY BARK/CHEROKEE PHOENIX
STILWELL – During her first year as an educator at Stilwell High School, Cherokee Nation citizen Faith Phillips is making an impact on her students by wanting them to have the same opportunities as larger schools and leveling the playing field when it comes to education.
With the use of her influence as a published author and the Go Fund Me website, Phillips raised more than $7,000 in five days to help purchase 28 new Chromebook computers for her senior English classes.
“I started thinking about how in-depth it is when you’re writing a research paper, you have to be able to research resources. You have to be able to keep your research together in one central place. Then, of course, you have to do the rough drafts and go through all the steps of being able to create a research paper. And there’s no really easy way to do that unless you have, today, a Chromebook,” Phillips said.
She said she looked at larger schools and their capabilities when it comes to helping students. She said her nephew attends a school near Tulsa and every night he takes home a Chromebook for homework use.
“I just thought if we expect our students in Stilwell, Oklahoma, to compete with students in Tulsa for jobs, they have to have access to the same tools,” she said.
SHS has 100 Chromebooks in the school’s library, but around 600 students have to compete to use them, and most are always on a waiting list.
“Most of our computers are outdated. You have to get on a list to use them, and it takes a while. When you have time-sensitive assignments it kind of makes it hard,” CN citizen and senior Brent Harlin said.
CN citizen and senior Tristen Butler shared Harlin’s sentiments, saying because of low funding, there weren’t enough computers to use and that students had to use outdated books for research.
Phillips said one big assignment she wants to start with her seniors, once the Chromebooks are in and ready to use, is a research project on why the town was considered the “death capital,” according to a 2018 Washington Post article.
“That’s what we’re doing as a class is this huge research project together because there are all these factors telling us that we’re the death capital. They list the number of factors, including our access to health care, our nutrition, perhaps some environmental factors such as mercury levels in the water,” Phillips said. “I think they would be excited be able to tell their families ‘this is the work I did as a senior at Stilwell. It had to do with our family.’ This topic I think makes real connections to the issue.”
Phillips said her goal is to cycle the 28 Chromebooks through her 100 senior English students so they each go through a daily class working on a computer.
Phillips added that seniors will be able to build résumés and complete college applications using the Chromebooks.
“It means a lot. She’s a very helpful teacher. She wants to see us all go do good things and do well for ourselves,” CN citizen and senior Garner Buckhorn said.
Phillips’ next goal is to get Chromebooks in every English class for the other grades. She said she expects the students to receive and start using the Chromebooks by mid-October.
“Since I’m a first-year teacher I didn’t really know if I was stepping outside of my bounds or stepping on someone’s toes by doing this,” Phillips said. “I just want to them to be able to step out of Stilwell High School and know where they’re going, either to college or some profession. They seem driven.”