Who WE Are – Gabe Phillips

For the Phillips family, the saying “Once a Colonial, always a Colonial” is more than a catch phrase. When Gabe Phillips graduated from William Penn High School in 1996, he could have never imagined how great an impact his colonial education would have on his life in the years to come. He never expected to meet the love of his life, Sarah, at WP. He never expected that 27 years later they would still be together, now married for 19 years with three children who all attend schools in the district. He never expected his wife, Sarah, would become a teacher at Southern Elementary School or that her mother, Sally, would also work as a nutrition services employee at the same school.  He never expected his father, Gary, also William Penn Alumni, to be hired as a digital media teacher. The father son duo are a part of a team to enhance the program by building WPTV, an in-school video studio and digital media program.  Most of all, Phillips never expected district leaders to post a position such as Strategic Marketing Officer.

After a successful start to his career at the YMCA working in a similar role, in 2015 Gabe found his dream job, back where it all began. “It was coming home, literally. I now have colleagues who were formerly my teachers, and a lot of alumni working beside me in Colonial Nation. This is home. I stay because this is more than a job, the rewards for a job well done are greater than just a paycheck.” Phillips says. 

Before being hired Phillips was an active parent who lent his skills in digital media, storytelling and graphic arts to Superintendent Dr. Dorothy Linn. Later, it was Superintendent Dr. Dusty Blakey who had the vision to create the marketing position and Colonial has never looked back. After applying and winning the role, Gabe got to work right away.  Gabe created a new website, district branding, and collaborated with other district leaders to create Colonial’s Power of WE mantra. “The Power of WE is our version of ‘it takes a village’. It means that this work we do is bigger than just one person, we are all in this together. No matter your title, be it a teacher, nutrition worker, custodian, IT, bus driver, paraprofessional, superintendent, administrator, parent, or student . . . everyone has a role, everyone can contribute, everyone has a stake in our success. WE celebrate each other when we succeed and WE lift each other up when we fail. This is who we are.”

Phillips has no regrets about leaving his job as a marketing and communications director for the YMCA, saying he finds more rewards giving back to a school district and community that gave so much to him, and now to his children. “My teachers were amazing and I still have relationships with them today. Some of those teachers are now my children’s teachers, which is mind-blowing. With both of my parents graduating from WP, as well as my wife and I, our kids will be third generation Colonials.  It’s pretty special.” Phillips works hard to change a lingering and misconceived narrative about Colonial.  By telling today’s story about a forward-thinking district with staff and families who work hard to see that students get the very best education, he says, “I want people to know that the power of WE is more than a slogan or a logo. It’s who the Colonial School District is in this moment and we thrive because of it!”


The Phillips are #WhoWEAre.