Full circle at Ridgedale School

Tom KingFeature, West Knox

Things, and people, come full circle more than we know.

Ridgedale School, which some people call Ridgedale Alternative School, has its first-ever assistant principal. Her name is Kristi Phillips, a native Knoxvillian and a graduate of Fulton High School and Carson-Newman University.

The Ridgedale principal, Diana Gossett, is in her eighth year at the school, and glad to have Phillips on board as classes begin today in Knox County. “She has a passion for working with at-risk students, so she is a perfect match for our school,” Gossett says.

Now, about the full circle part of this story.

In the 1988-89 school year Gossett was a special education teacher at Fulton. The special ed classes had peer tutors that assisted the classroom teacher. During that school year Phillips was a peer tutor in Gossett’s class, helping her with her students. Now they are together again – 30 years later.

In case you do not know about Ridgedale, it is a split school. One level of the building is for at-risk middle school students (grades 6-8) and the upper level is for K-12 special students. Its students are from all over Knox County.

It is a perfect fit for Phillips, Gossett says.

“She and I will be working together this school year to meet the unique needs of our students. We don’t have any designated responsibilities at this time and we’re going to enjoy working together for our students and staff.”

Phillips is in her 17th year with Knox County schools. She earned her undergraduate degree at Carson-Newman with a bachelor’s in elementary education. She also has a master’s in education in leadership from Carson-Newman.

Phillips describes herself as “a Knoxville native a wife, mom and Nana!” She is married to Scott and they have three adult children and three grandchildren. “We also have a fur baby named Lily that essentially runs the house,” she said.

“I am super excited to be joining the Ridgedale family and serving the students and staff.”

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