Teacher Feature: Philpot travels through states on a “Fat Boy”


From bee farming to tie-dying, to riding state to state on a “Fat Boy” motorcycle, Emily Philpot expresses more than just her teaching skills. Philpot began teaching at Richmond 19 years ago, after attending multiple different colleges and teaching at differing schools. Philpot finally found herself comfortable and content with her job as both a teacher and the head of the Food Pantry.

“I started as a highschool student attending IU East,” Philpot said. “When I graduated, I had to attend Brigham Young University for a year as a family requirement. When I came back, I finished my degree at IU East and then did a second one for the Special Education master’s certification and then I earned a master’s through Earlham in regular education.”

Philpot also mentions her differing jobs before joining the staff of Richmond.

“My first teaching job was teaching English for Ivy Tech,” Philpot said. “Then I taught at Rushville High School. The first chance I got to work at Richmond High School, I took it. I had done all of my fielding experiences here, I had done my student teaching here, I wanted to be here. It wasn’t a very easy place to get into back then, it had a lot of turn over.”

Much like many other people, Philpot chose to switch career path during college.

“I was gonna be a nurse,” she said. “I wanted to be an RN [Registered Nurse] until first semester, we got into the types of things we would be doing to prepare for that field so I realized that we were gonna be doing injections and drawing blood. So I shifted, and I went to Elementary Ed. That just wasn’t for me, I wanted to work with older students and teens so I made that switch.”

Philpot has more of a unique position in the high school, she can be found teaching the alternative program in the basement, and also maintaining the Food Pantry.

“Those are my two things [Alternative Program and Food Pantry] and they take up all of my time,” she said. “There is a lot of outside of school work with the Alternative Program. I stay in contact with my kids, they work from home and work after hours. If they couldn’t be here today, they’re texting me and I’m helping them through sections or I’m giving them resets so they can keep moving forward. That’s a big commitment, through Fall break, although I’m out of state, I’m getting texts from kids for help or resets. The other thing I do is RGA which is like this, [Alternative Program] which is like an online graduation program that is run after hours at the night school.”

The Food Pantry is a non-profit organization which provides for students and families in need.

“The Food Pantry serves the Richmond community,” Philpot said. “We serve students here, we also serve the other schools so we have community and school coordinators that come over on Thursdays and pick up for families that are at their buildings, but not at this one.

Students and the Richmond community can also be apart of the Food Pantry through donations.

“I’ve had support through Janet Bowling, she has gotten some donations for us and has made personal donations to us from one-gallon bags that we were using to make the snack packs for Fridays, and then she has also gotten us snacks donated from the Richmond Baking Company,” Philpot said. “Mrs. Parks has secured donations of several cases of shopping bags we can fill up with groceries, we didn’t have any. Many teachers give us their used shopping bags to use so that keeps us going. Parks also worked with her church organization and they worked with detergents, soaps, shampoos, toothpaste and a pretty large collection for us so we’re good in that area right now. It’s good to be kind of webbed out as more people find out what’s going on and what we’re doing. That has spread so that’s kind of nifty.”

Along with staying busy with her career, Philpot also maintains a very diversifying lifestyle.

“The furthest I have travelled on my bike, I have been to South Dakota, Utah, which is where my family lives, Colorado and all of the places in between,” she said. “I have gone from Utah all the way to Maine in the same summer, that was a pretty big trip.”

Philpot also spends a lot of her time gardening in order to produce for her vegan dieting choices.

“I’m a big gardiner, which I consider my grocery store as a plant-based vegan,” she said. “I spend my summers doing that, when I’m not travelling, I’m canning and freezing stuff and I eat on that for the rest of the winter. The plethora of food, beautiful, great-tasting food, it opened up a whole new world. I had always been a gardiner, but when I eliminated the meat and the dairy and the dead-carcass really, the cooking and the chopping and the sauteing, that’s something that my husband and I enjoy doing together, cooking.”

Philpot focuses a lot on not only her own success, but the success of her students.

“Being apart of kids’ success, even by proxy, just because I am here and I’m interacting and I am watching and having them say ‘I need 10 credits, it can’t be done. I don’t even know why I am here I can’t do it, or ‘I’ll never graduate.’ Helping a kid convince themselves that they can, and they will and they are successful and they can make it across that graduation hurdle, that finish line, that is an awesome thing to be apart of,” she said. “It doesn’t get any better than that, truly. Even kids who stop coming because they have given up this week, keeping in contact with them. It doesn’t always work out but when it does, that’s awesome. When a kid makes it, that’s a big part of it. It’s a big part of my heart, it gets me. I wouldn’t do anything else in the world than what I am doing. I got the best job in this building, it’s a myriad of things. It’s counseling, friendships, being a teacher.”

Altogether, Philpot not only finds herself connected to her students in the classroom, but outside of it as well.

“Also there are kids I have helped move,” she said. “I’ve helped in situations where mom says, ‘you know what, you’re 18 you’re out.’ They’re tired of fighting, make them get out. I would run out on my lunch and throw the kid’s stuff out into my vehicle and help them move to another place. Those situations, it’s a whole spectrum down here. But also, because of those things, the kids touch my life too. I envision this toy, it’s from a really long time ago, a rock tumbler. You could polish these rocks and these rocks that you pick up wouldn’t be too fine but you could just polish them up until they were real shiny, and that’s what I can connect to with these guys. They touch my life, we’re in this tumbling cycle together. They change who I am as a person, emotionally, through relationships and that’s really cool. Where else would I get to do that? So that’s a big part of it for me.”