Mr. Hamilton’s impact on DHS



Junior Luke LeBar laughs as English teacher Phillip Hamilton tells a classic dad joke on January 22, 2020.

Kennedy Ebberts, Staff Reporter

Almost everyone in De Soto High School knows about the AP Language and Composition course. Those who have taken it know the teacher, Phillip Hamilton. Many students may not enjoy the class itself because of its rigorous course content, but they do enjoy the teacher.

“He showed me what a good teacher should look like. He has kind of made me enjoy writing,” said junior and APLAC student Riley Padden.

Even from a young age, Hamilton knew he wanted to be a teacher. He realized this in first grade when his class would read aloud and some of his peers could not read as well.

“My mom would ask me ‘what did you learn at school today?’ and I would say, ‘little Betsey couldn’t read. Why can’t she read?’ My mom says I was always going to be a teacher,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton was also inspired by many teachers he had in high school. He loved the band and his band teacher, Mr. Larson, who was one of Hamilton’s motivations to teach.

“I also had a history teacher named Mr. Strickland who was very influential and I just love school,” Hamilton said.

Hamilton’s main goal while teaching is helping students with college. Most of his classes, including AP Language, ACT Prep and a new class based on college-level research called AP Seminar, are either college-level classes or college prep classes. Long term he hopes that his students will be better thinkers and writers. 

“I want them to be able to think critically about the world, have a lot of empathy for others and be able to understand points of view that are different from their own,” Hamilton said.

Hamiton is also the DHS varsity Scholars Bowl coach. He has grown the program from 14 students to over 50. Another impact he has had on DHS is the growth of the APLAC course, which is now one of the most enrolled in Advanced Placement classes. 

“First and foremost I want to make connections with my students. At the end of the day making curriculum that is relevant and has a purpose for a group of young people I have a relationship with really helps with the skills I’m trying to teach,” Hamilton said.

One thing Hamilton struggles with is the volume of students in his classes. Connecting with students is one of his best teaching strategies and while he is glad APLAC is growing, having so many students makes it difficult. 

“If I spent five minutes responding to every students’ email it would take all the plan time I have. It is really hard for me to give all the students the individual time I want to,” Hamilton said.

Even so, Hamilton has greatly affected many students in a positive way. 

“He is really dedicated to his students and has made a great impact at DHS,” Padden said.