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The Provo City School District and Board of Education gladly awarded five Provo Way awards in August. The Provo Way award is an opportunity for the district to celebrate the positive things students, teachers, administrators, parents, and staff do for the community.

This week, we’d like to celebrate and congratulate Independence High School’s counselor and volleyball coach, Phillip Sudweeks.

His office is teeming with positivity. One can find college flyers and stickers, pump-up posters, and Independence High’s cultural commitment signage in every nook of the room. You could spot a bobblehead and a volleyball ensconced on his bookcase. More interestingly, he has a few electric guitars in the corner of his room, and he played one of those guitars at the Senior’s welcome back assembly. Watching him play, he seems like the sort of counselor you wished you had in high school– cool, relatable, and approachable.

More importantly, he’s here for the students, with a bone-deep drive to see them succeed. His nomination story reveals how close he is with the Independence students.

Mr. Sudweek’s nomination came from school board member Jennifer Partridge. She recounts a moment during last year’s graduation which displayed what a supporting asset Phillip Sudweeks is for Independence.

“Last night was the Independence High School graduation. It is always an inspiring night. These students have overcome obstacles and persevered more than most teens.

One of the student speakers got up to give his speech and got very emotional. He tried several times to start his speech but couldn’t do it. The principal kindly told him it was okay, and he sat down.

While the next student was speaking, the counselor pictured here quietly walked up to J and talked to him. Before the final speaker, J and the counselor, Phillip Sudweeks, went to the microphone together. The counselor told us that the student had wanted to speak at graduation since October and then proceeded to read the speech as J stood by his side. Eventually, the student took the mic and finished his speech independently.

I was so touched by the care of this amazing counselor. Most of us would have gone up to the student after the ceremony to tell him we were proud of him and that it was okay that he didn’t give the speech. He could have let J’s initial time at the podium be enough. But Mr. Sudweeks knew the student and that helping them have the full experience was what that student needed.

In a political atmosphere where some people question our teachers’ motives, I want everyone to know that THIS is who our teachers are. They love our kids. They watch out for them. They are our kids’ advocates. They are there consistently supporting them and figuratively standing by their side.

Thank you to Phillip Sudweeks and to every single teacher and staff member in our district!”

The moment captures how Sudweeks goes above and beyond the call of his position. He cares for students every day, developing the rapport required not only to aid students but to make them feel so comfortable that they call on him for help. Beyond Jennifer Partridge’s nomination, Principal Jacob Griffin also shared a comment:

“Phil goes above and beyond every single day, working tirelessly yearlong, particularly during the end of the year when students are stressed and worried about graduating. He calms these students down, helps them get on track, and brings them the recovery they need. Phil is a huge asset to Independence High School and a great member of our family here.”

Congratulations, and thank you to Phillip Sudweeks for being an example and asset to our staff and students.

Spencer Tuinei
  • Communication Specialist
  • Spencer Tuinei