by Jennifer Yarbrough
You may already know that Bartram Trail High School has a new bear at the helm, as former Assistant Chris Phelps was appointed Principal in April. But did you know that a few days after receiving the news he had knee replacement surgery? And now, a few months later, he is back cycling the 25-miles to work? That could pretty much sum up Mr. Phelps’ personality, work ethic and leadership.
As Assistant Principal at Bartram Trail since it’s opening in 2000, he has lead in a way that has inspired students and teachers to be their best and strive for excellence, no matter what. His advice for parents of high schooolers is to support their students, but then put them on that bike and let them go…let them pedal as fast or slow as they need to and let them steer themselves in the direction they will go, always staying a safe distance to pull them back on the trail when need be. To students, he quotes former Bartram student, Andrew Dill, who, when addressing Freshmen his Senior year told them that it is exciting being in High School and having more freedoms, but “increased freedom, means increased responsibility.”
And Mr. Phelps says to “grab it,” encouraging students to meet and know every adult on campus, a skill that will help them throughout life. He also speaks of the importance of learning communication and writing skills in class and outside of class, because these skills will lay the foundation for many aspects of their life after high school. A new, proactive program that Mr. Phelps and teachers are excited about is, “Link Crew,” which matches Freshmen with Upperclassmen in a leadership/mentorship setting. Upperclassmen receive training in leadership skills and Freshmen find mentors that can help them navigate the world of high school.
Many teachers, past and present, parents and students have expressed their enthusiasm for Mr. Phelps’ appointment, Carole Prior, who worked for five years when Phelps was AP says, “He has the HEART of a LION, the ZEAL of a CHAMPION and the LEADERSHIP SKILLS that the CAPTAIN of the STARSHIP must have!” Current teacher, Mrs. Jane Jens who has worked with him most of her career states, “I have complete confidence that he's the leader we need at BTHS. His calm competence, kindness, and steel backbone assure me that he'll do the right thing. Great choice for us!"
Having spent fourteen years at Nease High School and now fifteen years at Bartram Trail High School, Mr. Phelps is a great choice for the school and this area. He talks with pride of working with “the same folks, the same families,” over the years and of building relationships and trust with them, he feel like he wants to give back to the community that “has given him so much.”
Alright Bears, get on your cycles and start pedaling, you’ve got an amazing Principal leading the way!
St. Johns Magazine