Philip Girard

Language Arts Teacher

When I moved to Traverse City in 2004, I had no idea that education would be my path forward. I began work with local conservation organizations, believing greatly in the power of the natural world to help inspire and heal people within a community. With groups of local students, we set out to improve and protect local parks. The Commons Natural Area was my task, and I quickly fell in love with the well-trodden trails and the serene creeks and streams. Our work together not only gave these young people a sense of pride and purpose, it also gave me a new path to follow. Working with students was incredibly rewarding, and so I went back to school, pursuing a degree in education. Having degrees in both English Secondary Education and Outdoor Recreation forced me to consider, much as Robert Frost had, which “road” I might follow.

When I came to The Greenspire School in 2014, I didn’t have to choose between my two careers. I was not only tasked with helping students express themselves more confidently through our studies of the English language, but I also developed a watershed studies program that had me teaching in the outdoors, the very places of the Commons Natural Area that I had fallen for nearly a decade prior. I could not have dreamed of a better position. My task was simple: guide students to a love and appreciation for the stories we tell, the complexity of language, and the importance of our combined efforts in addressing environmental issues. Every day was a privilege.
Now, having moved to Greenspire High School, I look forward to ensuring all of the great work we’ve been doing since the school’s inception: helping students to discover better versions of themselves through Project Based Learning and deepening their connection to our environment.