Phil Spears joins Episcopal as the new Assistant Head for Student Life, with his wife, Lauren, their sons, Derek ‘24 and Nolan, and — in true Episcopal style — two dogs.
Episcopal becomes home to many who pass through its gates — and, although this will be Phil’s first time living and working on campus, he is no stranger to The High School, traveling to athletic games and other events here many times throughout his nearly three-decade career in education. Born in Virginia, Phil’s family moved to Wake Forest, N.C., when he was a teenager. He returned to Virginia to attend college at Washington & Lee University, and then began his lifelong career in education. Phil has worked at the Gilman School, St. Christopher’s School, St. Catherine’s School, and now comes to Episcopal after a five-year stint as the head of school at Canterbury School in Greensboro, N.C.
It would be impossible to have such a long career in private education without making meaningful connections along the way. Several former students and school families of his are EHS alumni and current students, and a former St. Christopher’s student is now on the faculty at Episcopal. Phil worked alongside Head of School Charley Stillwell at St. Christopher’s as well. As a former football coach, Phil also remembers competing in Hummel Bowl against some terrific EHS teams and coaching against Steve Castle and Scott Conklin, longtime Episcopal educators. These personal and professional relationships provided Phil with an insight to the culture and community of EHS, but he is quick to share that his motivation for coming to Episcopal was driven not just by the people he’s known through the years, but rather by what he gleaned about the people he doesn’t know just quite yet: the students.
Phil’s M.O. is simple. He is dedicated to making authentic connections with the students by actively being out and about, in substantive conversations and relationships with them.
“I’m a fan of sports, art, music, food, and trivia — I love to do that with students. I love dad jokes, bad jokes, one-liners, and puns,” he says. “I tend to have a joke of the day.”
Phil intends for conversation, humor, and food to be in abundance during both formal and casual gatherings with students. He and Lauren both share a love of music and singing, and one of the many traditions he looks forward to experiencing as school is underway is chapel.
“I'm looking forward to being in chapel with the community, the possibility of singing again, and to experiencing my first EHS Lessons and Carols.”
As a former coach and college athlete, Phil also is excited about participating in Episcopal’s athletics traditions this fall, especially Seminary Hill Cup and Spirit Weekend.
Phil’s demeanor coupled with his calm and reassuring presence make him a natural for the role of assistant head for student life. And while he is an avid fan of the students, he is equally enthusiastic about building strong relationships with their parents.
“Our partnership is crucial,” Phil says. “It’s important for parents to have trust in us — and in me — and to know that if kids are struggling or mess up, we are here to guide and support them... that our full hearts are in it. Open lines of communication are key in fostering solid relationships and I pride myself on being accessible to students, parents, and my colleagues. I began working in education because I wanted to make a difference in the world through kids’ lives, and I have loved working with them everyday for nearly 30 years now. I am particularly excited about this role because I will be with students and teachers 24/7, which I see as a gift.”
Are you interested in hearing Phil tell his favorite joke? Or maybe his favorite foods to bring to student gatherings? Well, we won’t give it away here. Students can stop by his office in Hoxton House, or parents can reach out to him via email. Phil’s door is always open.