Siri Phelps


Age: 42

Lives: Gettysburg Borough

From: Lebanon

Educated at: Gettysburg College (Bachelor’s Degree in English) Wilkes University (Master’s Degree in Education)

Family: husband Jimmy, son Harrison, and daughter Sullivan

Job: English Teacher, Fairfield High School

Job’s reward: Witnessing the “lightbulb” moments that students have in my classroom. Recommending a book to a student and then seeing how much they loved reading it. Watching students grow from freshmen to seniors and preparing to go out into the world. Staying in touch with former students to see where their lives take them.

Job’s frustrations: Paperwork, piles of grading, people with no background in education making decisions for schools and teachers

What is it like being a teacher through COVID? Having to teach over Zoom for much of last year made me really appreciate the connection that is formed by being in the classroom with kids. It was always my favorite part of teaching already, and in addition to missing it, I realized how difficult it is to engage with students and build those relationships virtually. This year is still challenging, but being back in the same space with the kids every day makes such a huge difference.

Very first job was: lifeguard

Favorite food: hoagies

Pets: two cats, Statler and Waldorf (named after the old guy hecklers in the balcony on The Muppet Show)

Hero: anyone who is confronted with injustice and challenges it with integrity and persistence

Hobbies: reading, walking, spending time with family and friends

Pet peeves: ineffective communication, wasting food, packing tape

Collects: books, magnets from places I’ve visited, trivial facts

Best friend: My husband. We always have fun together, even if we’re just cleaning out the garage. He’s got my back no matter what and he loves me despite all my weaknesses and flaws

Would like to have witnessed what event in history? No specific event, but I would love to spend a day in another era like Ancient Greece or Renaissance England to see if it’s really the way we imagine it to be.

Event that changed your life: The birth of my children. No one can understand what it means to be a parent until it happens to them. Your perspective and priorities shift permanently in an instant.

Your scariest moment: Hiking in Arches National Park this past summer with my family. There is a very steep ledge just before the Delicate Arch and I was so worried one of us was going to fall.

First memory: I always loved to play in my grandmother’s attic, but one day she said I couldn’t because there was a mouse up there. Well I snuck up anyway because I really wanted to see that mouse and I discovered all my Christmas presents sitting there unwrapped.

Trait inherited from parents: Being a pack rat — I have a hard time throwing things away. The simplest thing can have a sentimental meaning for me.

Piece of advice that you live by: Think of things in relation to cosmic time. I tend to worry and blow things out of proportion, but I read somewhere that you should think about how an individual event matters in relation to cosmic time and this will help minimize the stress it causes.

Who needs a hug and why? Teachers and students everywhere. The past two years in education have been difficult and unprecedented, yet students continue to learn and teachers continue to teach them. Perseverance and ingenuity have won over adversity.

Favorite reading/author: My favorite books are “The Great Gatsby” by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding, “Summer Sisters” by Judy Blume, and “Middlesex” by Jeffrey Eugenides. I also love anything by Kurt Vonnegut, Meg Wolitzer, and Liane Moriarty. And of course Harry Potter!

Favorite spot on earth? Eagles Mere, Pennsylvania. I’ve been vacationing there for over 30 years so I have memories there with many special people from all stages of my life.

Website you visit most: Wikipedia. I’m a trivia fiend — I’m always looking up some person, event, or fact.

Would like concert tickets to see: Beastie Boys. I know that’s not possible anymore, but I wish I could take my husband to see them. I’m not a big concert person but he loves them.

One bad habit: I am late all the time.

3 items on your bucket list: Be a contestant on “Jeopardy,” travel to Europe with my husband and children, and read “Ulysses” by James Joyce

Five minutes with: My mother’s parents. They both died before I was born.

What skill or lesson would you like to learn? I would love to learn to speak a second language

What would people find surprising about you? I played intercollegiate water polo for University College Cork when I studied abroad in Ireland my junior year.

What would make this world a better place? More people volunteering their time and talents for their community. We’re all in this together and every little bit helps.

What is the best piece of news you received lately that you would like to share? That the Gettysburg Christmas festival is back! I can’t wait to go out and celebrate the holidays in our town.

How would you like to be remembered? As someone who always tried to be better and do better, even if only a little at a time.

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