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Thomas J. Phillips

"It's good to be home!" These were the words that came to mind when the Board of Directors affirmed my appointment as Executive Director of the New York State Middle School Association.  As I reflect on my 33 year career in public education, I look back at those times spent at the Middle-Level as the most child centered and engaging for myself and the students I served. The Middle-Level years were spent immersed in caring for and addressing the academic, social and emotional needs of children, collaborating with colleagues about best practice, engaging students, parents and community as a means of establishing a strong  support network for the children and the school. We believed in the mission of creating a “Surround and Support Network“ for everyone.


Middle-Level Education was and still IS about caring and addressing the needs of the whole child.

The foundation of the mission of Middle-Level education is based on the Essential Elements of Standards-Focused Middle-Level Schools and Programs. The mission is clear and the pathway to success is defined. Fast forward a bit to our most recent past and we now look to the Essential Elements School to Watch program as the evidence of effective Middle-Level best practices. The Association has assisted colleagues across New York State with putting the Essential Elements into practice. Schools are being recognized for the fidelity in which they implement the Essential Elements as identified by site visits and the use of the associated Essential Elements rubric. I look with a great sense of pride at the progress the Association has made ensuring that Middle-Level education remains the focus of meeting the needs of our students as they transition from childhood to adolescence.

While much has been accomplished much remains to be done! The Association will remain steadfast in support of the implementation of the Essential Elements across New York State. We believe quality Middle-Level education based on the tenets identified in the Essential Elements is imperative to student success.


We will support Middle-Level educators throughout the State in their effort to deliver quality instruction & provide support to their students.

Quality Middle-Level education is the foundation on which quality College and Career readiness is built. I look forward to engaging with the State Education Department, other education associations in New York State and you the members of the Middle School Association in an effort to ensure quality Middle-Level education remains a critical component of the mission to educate our children.  I will leave you with you with my life mission statement:

L   Live a life that will give others a sense of who you are

I    Invite other points of view to be your foundation for continuous improvement

  Allow Faith to be your guide…but not your crutch

E   Encourage others, by example, to take risks in an effort to “leave it a little better than you found it”



Thomas J. Phillips

Retired Superintendent 

Watkins Glen Central School District

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