Long-time educator retires in Mission

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  • LLOYD PHILLIPS stands with his first-born grandchild, Amelia, who he most re cently had in class during his last year before retirement. (Photo provided)

  • 1

    ST. IGNATIUS teacher and coach Lloyd Phillips watches a presentation at the Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge in Charlo in late May. (Ashley Fox/Lake County Leader)

  • 2

    FOR HIS last day of teaching before he retired, St. Ignatius teacher Lloyd Phillips’ granddaughter, Amelia, gave him a card. (Photo provided)

  • 3

    LLOYD PHILLIPS has taught and coached in the Mission Valley for the last four decades. (Photo provided)

  • LLOYD PHILLIPS stands with his first-born grandchild, Amelia, who he most re cently had in class during his last year before retirement. (Photo provided)

  • 1

    ST. IGNATIUS teacher and coach Lloyd Phillips watches a presentation at the Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge in Charlo in late May. (Ashley Fox/Lake County Leader)

  • 2

    FOR HIS last day of teaching before he retired, St. Ignatius teacher Lloyd Phillips’ granddaughter, Amelia, gave him a card. (Photo provided)

  • 3

    LLOYD PHILLIPS has taught and coached in the Mission Valley for the last four decades. (Photo provided)

St. Ignatius Middle School teacher and coach Lloyd Phillips has started a new chapter in his life: retiree.

The 65-year-old decided to retire after more than four decades as an educator.

While he loves teaching and he’ll miss it, Phillips said he doesn’t “want to stay too long.”

Phillips’ journey to education began when he was a student at Mission schools.

“I had two people that were very influential” in why Phillips wanted to become an educator and coach: high school social studies teacher Montana Bockman and Bob Voth, a football and basketball coach and high school English teacher.

“Those two guys were my favorite teachers and mentors,” Phillips recalled.

By the time he went to college in 1970, Phillips knew he wanted to be a teacher.

Spending four years studying math and English at The University of Montana, Phillips said he worked at a golf course through college, but it was an opportunity at a daycare in Missoula that persuaded him to switch to an elementary education major.

The change added two more years to his education, but “I never looked back,” Phillips said.

Upon graduation, Phillips began his career teaching sixth grade with the Charlo district, a place he worked for 11 years, and also where he also started to coach track, boys and girls middle school basketball and high school football, as well as holding the title of ‘athletic director’ for a time.

Although he could have stayed at Charlo “forever,” Phillips left because former St. Ignatius Superintendent Doug Resig “talked me into coming to Mission.”

The career move provided a layup for Phillips’ chance to coach basketball as a head coach, which he says was “a great move.”

Phillips has not only taught for a long time in the St. Ignatius district, but he’s coached there longer than any other coach in the school’s history, he said.

Although he could have stayed at Charlo “forever,” Phillips left because former St. Ignatius Superintendent Doug Resig “talked me into coming to Mission.”

The career move provided a layup for Phillips’ chance to coach basketball as a head coach, which he says was “a great move.”

Phillips has not only taught for a long time in the St. Ignatius district, but he’s coached there longer than any other coach in the school’s history, he said.

While at Mission, Phillips was the head coach for boys’ high school basketball, leading them to state three times: in 1992, 1996 and 1999.

It was in 1992 when the team finished fourth, which was Mission’s second-highest finish ever, Phillips recalled.

Phillips said that he’s had opportunities to go coach at other places, “but this is home for me.”

Years later, the lifelong bulldog fan still roots for Charlo, “just not when they’re playing Mission,” he said, chuckling.

Phillips “bleeds blue and white,” and “has touched the hearts of many students and athletes” during his career, current Superintendent Jason Sargent said.

Once he made the move to St. Ignatius, Phillips taught in the middle school for two years and was an administrative assistant for two years.

Sargent explained that he was hired into the St. Ignatius district 25 years ago by Phillips as a teacher.

“(Phillips) was one of my first good friends when I moved here,” taking Sargent hunting, golfing, and welcoming him into his own home.

Now, for the last 27 years, Phillips been teaching fifth grade, in the same classroom.

Keeping busy through the summer months, Phillips taught some summer classes and worked summer construction jobs up until 2007, when he hurt his knees.

Now that he’s retired, Phillips will spend the next year becoming acclimated to his new routines until his wife, Jo, a St. Ignatius business teacher, retires.

Once Sept. 1 rolls around, he’ll be able to hunt with some “lifelong hunting partners that will be excited” to see him, he said. Phillips also has 10-month-old lab puppies to tend to, as well as spending time with his six grandchildren.

During his tenure with St. Ignatius schools, Phillips coached his daughter Jenny and taught Cody in both the third and fifth grades.

However, this year, he said, has been “real special,” as he’s been teaching his eldest of six grandchildren, Amelia.

“She calls me ‘papa’ in class,” he beamed.

Having his immediate family in the classroom has not been an issue.

Keeping work and homelife separate hasn’t been particularly difficult, but Phillips explained he feels that it’s been easier to define that separation from the teaching standpoint over the coaching.

“My kids and grandkids have been excellent students,” but Phillips noted that with coaching, he expected more out of his family which could be the case with other coaches that have their family members as athletes.

Besides his family, Phillips has taught and coached multigenerations, something that’s bound to happen “when you’re in a spot that long,” he said.

Phillips’ family is engrained in Mission, as his father graduated from the district in 1933, his wife, Jo, in 1972, as well as her parents, and his and Jo’s children, Jenny and Cody.

Whether he’s taught or coached students, they are al llike an extended family to Phillips.

“I see people I coached 40 years ago and they’ll still call me ‘mister’ or ‘coach.’”

Looking back on his teaching career, Phillips’ most precious memory came just last fall, during the parent-teacher-student conference session with Jenny and Amelia.

“It doesn’t get any better than that,” he said of the meeting.

As far as coaching, Phillips fondly remembers when the basketball team placed fourth in the state championship.

His most vivid memory, however, was winning the Western “B” Divisional Boys Basketball Championship at Polson in February of 1999.

“We beat Seeley the first game in (overtime), beat Frenchtown in the semifinals in (overtime), and beat Plains in the championship in (double overtime,” Phillips recalled.

His nephew, Ryan Schock, made the game-winning freethrow with his recently broken shooting hand.

“That’s the stuff movies are made from,” Phillips said.

Making the moment even better was that Phillips’ father was sitting behind the bench, watching.

Later, Phillips was told that playing three overtime games “back-to-back-to-back” in a divsional basketball tournament “was a first in Montana history.”

Sargent has big ideas for the new retiree.

“My secret plan is to give him a year off and hire him back as our athletic director.”

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