Team Member Spotlight: Sydney Phillips
Updated: Oct 27, 2022
In 2021, our organization made some amazing new additions to the team. We are so excited for you to meet them! In this post, we'd like to introduce you to one of our newest Education Specialists, Sydney Phillips.
Prior to starting at YokyWorks, Sydney completed her Master's in Special Education with a certificate in dyslexia and taught Pre-K in Atlanta, Georgia. She believes that she has a responsibility to the greater good and has the ability to make a meaningful difference through the empowerment of reading. We recently sat down with Sydney to learn more about her passion for reading education and her approach to working with students.
Sarah: Let's start with a fun question. What's your ideal superpower?
Sydney: My ideal superpower is the ability to breathe underwater. As a child, I would spend hours swimming in our family swimming pool and would visit the beach every summer vacation. Consequently, I joined my community's swim team to combine my love for swimming with a recreational outlet. Being able to breathe underwater would grant me the ability to swim with sea animals and dive deep into different oceans to observe beautiful coral reefs.
Sarah: That's an amazing superpower! I love that your childhood passions continue to inspire you. What drew you to working with YokyWorks?
Sydney: I was drawn to YokyWorks because of its innovative intervention for addressing dyslexia. I was intrigued by its impact on cognitive and behavioral growth which fueled my desire to address the educational needs of young people. YokyWorks emphasizes the importance of studying each individual learner in order to be an effective specialist. Additionally, the YokyWorks team challenges and empowers its future education specialists to teach all individuals the power of reading.
Sarah: What part of your job are you most passionate about?
Sydney: I am most passionate about encouraging a sense of self-worth and a passion for knowledge in children. One of the greatest professors of educational psychology, Dr. Asa G. Hilliard, III once said, "[We will] never encounte[r] any children in any group who are not geniuses. There is no mystery on how to teach them. The first thing you do is treat them like human beings and the second thing you do is love them." Our childhood informs who we become later in life. Many times these influences inspire "little geniuses" to achieve historical greatness in their chosen work. I aspire to build children's self-confidence so that they can reach their full potential.
Sarah: What surprised you most when you were first undergoing training to become a YokyWorks Education Specialist?
Sydney: YokyWorks changed my perspective of reading. I was really surprised to learn how, as adults, we rely on letters to produce meaning instead of sound and sound production. Letters are the representation of specific sounds, but articulation, mouth position, and sound perception are truly the foundation for learning how to read. By combining the knowledge of prevention with intense reading intervention for nontraditional readers, YokyWorks merges the gap between access and achievement.
Sarah: What do you like most about the YokyWorks approach?
Sydney: I appreciate how the method is explicit and intentional. This method recognizes the pattern of individuals who are underserved by traditional reading instruction. Children are empowered through learning the importance of sound and by using their own voice. Additionally, the use of vibrant colors and pictures allows for children to be engaged and excited about what they are learning. The method is unique and energetic which makes learning fun.
Sarah: All of us deliver the program a little differently because we have such diverse personalities and experiences. How would you describe your personal teaching style?
Sydney: I enjoy getting to know children through meaningful conversations and activities centered around play. It is through these interactions that children are more at ease and receptive to learning. I am a person who believes working hard deserves playing hard, and I hope to achieve both during my time at YokyWorks. By empowering the minds of young scholars who will then grow to manage the world, I will know that I have left my imprint on this earth. Planting one seed at a time, one day at a time.