The Story of Margie

Lavender Duff – The Charter Features


Many students at ACA think they know her pretty well, you might even be one of these students. But how well do you actually know her?

“Margie [Phillips] creates a very open, safe environMargiement in her classrooms. She is very welcoming,” says Annika Bowlsby, a junior here at ACA. “She tries very hard to make everyone feel welcomed and appreciated.”

Margie Phillips is a music teacher here at ACA, and has been for the past four years.  At ACA, she focuses on teaching choir, piano, and voice, but also teaches recorder, world drumming, and beginning guitar. Additionally, she provides music lessons from her home.

As far as family goes, Phillips says, “I have one husband, he makes money so I can be a music teacher, I have two kids, Ellie and Rose, and an adopted cat who looks like Toothless from How to Train Your Dragon. This year we have a foreign exchange student from China. His name is Jason and he’s 16.”

When Phillips isn’t teaching, she has many hobbies. She enjoys reading, running, traveling, playing foursquare, having nerf battles, and being a kid.

Currently, she is reading Ready Player One, as suggested to her by her student, Ash.  She got the book from his mother’s store, The White Rabbit, in Oregon City. The Harry Potter book series is her favorite. “They are so well written that you feel like you really know the characters. You feel like they’re real people. All you need to know in life you’ll find in a Harry Potter book.”

Phillips was born in Laramie, Wyoming. She lived in Texas and Montana growing up and moved to Seattle for college, and eventually ended up here in Oregon.

In middle school, Phillips was told that if she could run 200 miles that year, she would get a cool prize. So she, and a few of her classmates, did. She’s been running ever since.

Phillips first went to Montana State University, then transferred to the University of Massachusetts. After that, she went to the University of Washington and got her degree in music education. Phillips went to Duquesne for a week and taught guitar. “They gave me a free guitar. It was awesome,” she said. After that, she went to Portland State University and got her master’s degree in choral conducting.

“I started teaching music in 1994. I’ve been teaching off and on when I’m not being a mom; a little bit here and there over the years.”

Phillips spoke about her career before ACA. “I was teaching a lot of private music students at my house in Canby. At one point, I had to hire three or four other teachers and we had about 100 students. We rented a building in Canby to teach in. I was also teaching at Village Home school in Oregon. Before that I also taught some choirs at Marylhurst and Canby Community Education.”

“Ms. Nine, the other choir director, needed someone to play the piano for her choir,” Phillips said.  “Somehow she knew I played piano and she asked me to play. I played for one year.” That was how Phillips was introduced to ACA. After accompanying Camelia Nine and the ACA choir, Mrs. Nine asked Phillips if she would like to take over as the choir director.

Some students were disappointed with the teacher change, but overall, the community response to Margie Phillips has been a positive one. “I think that she is a terrific teacher,”  Bowlsby says. “She has a unique teaching style, and she is always thinking of new ways to inspire her students. She incorporates fun warm ups and games into her choir and piano classes, while making sure that everyone is on board and learning.”

“Margie is really considerate with her students,” Senior choir student Isabella Daschel, says, “I have learned a lot from Margie, and her classes, I have grown more in my music knowledge.”

Students say that Phillips has a fun personality. Her ways of explaining things to the class seems to be a common favorite. “I always enjoy listening to her motivate us, especially in choir class. She will often tell us how she wants the song to be expressed by jumping around and singing it herself,” says Bowlsby.

Gracelyn Pen, a 7th grader, says her favorite part of the choir class is, “When she uses metaphors to describe what we’re supposed to sing.”

Seven-year-old Love Best says that she loves everything about the class. When asked if there was anything she doesn’t like, she said ‘the part that’s not the class.’

“What I like about it is it’s really fun and I get to meet the most wonderful people,” Phillips said, when asked about her favorite parts of teaching. “Everyone is different. I like how I’m always challenged to be better at my job. My job is never the same; I get to choose new music every year.  I like how earnest and cute and sweet the younger kids are. I like, at ACA in particular, the students all want to be good and they’re all hard workers.”

Not only does Phillips appreciate the students, but the students also admire her. Daschel says, “Margie is one of the nicest teachers at ACA, and I can confidently say, all the students love her.”


Bowlsby, Annika. Personal interview. Jan 12, 2017.

Daschel, Isabella. Personal interview. Jan 13, 2017.

Best, Love. Personal interview. Jan 28, 2017.

Phillips, Margie. Personal interview. Jan 19, 2017.