SMS's Ximinies named one of state's Outstanding Beginning Teachers

Science teacher Phillip Ximinies

Phillip Ximinies, a science teacher at Sedalia Middle School, has been named one of the state’s Outstanding Beginning Teachers by the Missouri Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

According to a news release from MACTE: “The Outstanding Beginning Teacher Awards recognize teachers in their first two years of service who demonstrate excellence in serving children in school districts across Missouri. Award recipients were selected based on recommendations from Missouri’s teacher education programs and a recommendation from candidates’ school districts.”

The recognition was announced March 9 during MACTE’s Spring Conference, which was held virtually this year due to COVID-19 restrictions. The nominator for Ximinies, a graduate of Missouri Valley College in Marshall, wrote:

“Phillip has been an outstanding teacher from the very beginning. His first day of teaching science in the fall of 2019, he dressed up as a scientist, lab coat, crazy hair, and all, and immediately won over his students and got them excited about science. … Phillip works hard to share his passion for science and learning to motivate his students. His greatest strength is the way he can connect with his students. They know he cares for them and does everything he can to help them.”

Brett Hieronymus, principal of Sedalia Middle School, said some people have an ability to draw others in, and Ximinies is certainly among them.

“What stands out about Mr. X is his innate ability to build connections with kids,” Hieronymus said. “They feel better about themselves when they have Mr. X as a teacher because he has that ability to make kids feel good and try harder.”

At the fifth-grade level, a lot of science education is through hands-on projects, and Hieronymus said Ximinies has made that a fun environment for his students.

Ximinies, in his second year at SMS, was taken by surprise by the award.

“It truly wasn’t something I was expecting,” he said. “I am so thankful just for the opportunity to be in the Sedalia 200 district and being able to impact some of these kids. My biggest goal when I step into the building every day is to have an influence on these students and be a positive role model, be someone they can look up to and someone they enjoy being around.”

Ximinies also is in his first season as an assistant coach for the Smith-Cotton baseball team. He enjoys all aspects of being a classroom teacher, but eventually would like to become an administrator. The MACTE honor is an endorsement that he is on the right path.

“It allows me to feel good about what I am doing for kids, and at the end of the day everything we do is for the kids,” he said, helping them “be the best versions of themselves and educate them so they are able to one day become teachers or someone who impacts the lives of others.”

Hieronymus believes recognition like the Outstanding Beginning Teachers award is needed.

“Being a teacher is a hard job,” he said. “Recognizing young teachers not only for the abilities they have but the growth they exhibit is important … to make sure they know they are making a difference.”