STAR student Katie Martin taps Phillips as STAR teacher

Published 11:20 am Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Katie Martin has been named as a STAR (Student-Teacher Achievement Recognition) Student at St. Aloysius High School for the 2015-2016 school year by the Mississippi Economic Council’s M. B. Swayze Foundation.

STAR Students are selected on the basis of academic excellence. Both American College Test scores and scholastic averages are compared to determine the school’s STAR Student, explained Vickie Powell of Jackson, senior vice president of the foundation.

Martin, the daughter of Karen and Andy Martin, earned a 34 on her ACT test.

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Each STAR Student is asked to designate a STAR Teacher, the teacher who has made the greatest contribution to the student’s scholastic achievement. Martin selected her math teacher Eleanor Phillips as her STAR teacher.

“She taught me math and inspired me to really love math and understand it and seek to understand it,” Martin said. “She inspired me to possibly consider being a math teacher at some point.”

In fact, Martin said whenever she tries to explain math, she imitates her former math teacher.

“I go through how she explains it and try to follow the same steps,” she said.

Phillips, who now works at Warren Central High School, taught Martin honors algebra II, honors trigonometry and pre-calculus and advanced placement calculus.

“Katie is an amazing student,” Phillips said. “Katie’s biggest gift is that she not only wants to know how to solve a problem, she wants to know the applications of a problem. She’s going to come in and she’s going to make sure she understands the applications, which is great. Some kids just want to get the answer.”

Phillips said Martin was a year ahead in her math classes, so she was able to see her with a different group of students.

“I think she was really comfortable with them, and I think she blended well,” she said. “I also got to see her on the golf course and other different environments. She can take a challenging situation and just relax and have fun with it.”

Phillips said she was surprised when she heard she was chosen since she isn’t even at the same school as Martin anymore. She now teaches algebra II at Warren Central High School.

“Katie is one that I miss a lot,” she said. “When you teach kids as long as I have here in a small environment, you get really attached to them.”

Phillips said this award is one she’s especially proud of because of the process.

“To me, being STAR Teacher is the biggest honor you can get,” she said. “When your students choose you for something, for me, that’s the biggest honor in the world because I teach for the kids, I really do.”

Martin has spent most of her life in Vicksburg, and she has attended St. Aloysius since seventh grade.

Throughout her high school years, Martin has been involved in several extra curricular activities, including swim, golf, quiz bowl, open forum, Key Club, Mu Alpha Theta, National Honor Society and 456 Siege Robotics. She is a member of Church of the Holy Trinity.

Martin plans to study engineering after leaving high school, and she is trying to decide whether she will continue her studies at the United States Military Academy at West Point or her parents’ alma mater Purdue University.

Martin will be honored during the STAR Program at the annual Education Celebration on April 28 at the Jackson Convention Center in downtown Jackson.