Wayne State University

Congratulations to Lisa Phillips (COE '92) earns statewide Principal of the Year award

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Principal Lisa Phillips thought her school, Cass Technical High in Detroit, was about to receive an award for academic success Wednesday as faculty, administrators and dignitaries gathered in the school's Grand Theatre. Boy, was she wrong.
 
An award was being presented, but not to the school. Instead, officials with the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals awarded Phillips the title of Principal of the Year for the state of Michigan. Phillips
is the first Detroit principal to receive the honor.
 
“I honor my Savior,” Phillips told her well-wishers. “This is the work that I was put here to do. I follow the lead for the One who I praise, and He makes this OK for all of us." She also thanked her administrative team, saying team members help make dreams come true for students.
 
The Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals gives the award each year to a member.  Phillips  was one of 10 high school nominees and was chosen by a panel of judges.
 
Under her seven years of leadership as Cass Tech principal, the school was named an International  Baccalaureate school; it is the only public high school in Detroit  and Wayne County to earn the designation, according to the awards program.
 
“Lisa Phillips has been the true embodiment of an exceptional principal,” said Wendy Zdeb, executive director of the principals association. “Every day, she works to make the 2,500 students and staff members in this building feel like a family.”
 
Speaker after speaker heaped praise upon Phillips, who was visibly overcome with emotion.
 
Deborah Jenkins, principal of Martin Luther King Jr. Senior High School in Detroit and a member of the association's board, acknowledged the significance of a Detroit principal receiving the honor and congratulated Phillips on it.
 
“Not only have we had a long-standing professional career together for more than 20 plus years, but a friendship that goes much longer,” Jenkins said
 
Phillips said that she was not only shocked to receive the award, but surprised to learn she was the first principal from Detroit to earn it.
 
“To be the first, it makes me so proud," she said. "Everything I do is a ‘we’ thing, it’s what we do here in Detroit."
 
Philips will be formally recognized at the association's annual conference in June in Traverse City.

Photo: Romain Blanquart, Detroit Free Press