Village East Gifted – Teaching with Taste

May 04, 2019

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Huntington Station, NY – May 29, 2014 -(Long Islander) Upon walking into Huntington Station enrichment center, Village East Gifted, don't expect your normal classroom – the children aren't in desks taking notes, and the teacher isn't spending the day lecturing.

Headmaster Tobi Phillips runs this learning center that acts typically as a supplement for regular preK-12 education. She thinks the key to teaching these gifted children involves a little more creativity than what students are probably used to. But what you do see, instead of the typical classroom structure, is something unique – maybe even something tasty.

"Everything we do here is very unusual and very lateral. We don't have desks and chairs here; it doesn't work that way," Phillips said. "[The students] are up, they're spinning wheels, they're winning things, they're throwing things, they're being timed… it's all interactive. There's no sitting down and watching."

This innovative learning center for gifted children could only be formed by someone with the credentials to back it, and Tobi Phillips certainly does not fall short. She has more than 35 years of teaching experience, three master's degrees in education from Boston College and a doctoral certification from Teacher's College, Columbia University.

However, Phillips' resume is a bit more eclectic and impressive than just that. On top of her thorough teaching background, there is one thing that stands a tier above the rest – a cake shop. Sometimes in between getting her three master's degrees and holding teaching jobs, Phillips found the time to make custom came structures for six years in a shop she owned called Piece-A-Cake.

It would certainly be remiss if her students missed out on Phillips' culinary specialty, so cake-making can become part of the curriculum at Village East Gifted. "It becomes an engineering project, because they have to understand how to construct a wedding cake that might be six tiers high, and know how to do it so that it's mathematically balanced," she said.

This is just one example of how the 280 students under Phillips' wing are lucky to experience her creative take on academics – from kindergarten all the way up to college admissions. Phillips proudly noted that this year marks her first graduating class, with university acceptances from Duke to Yale, and her alma mater, Columbia.

The Huntington Station location is the largest of her three centers for gifted learning, housing 260 of her prodigies. Nevertheless, it was no small feat getting this company to where it is today. Back in 2007, Phillips only offered enrichment tutoring in the Huntington area. However, in September of 2013, she opened Village East Gifted at the current Huntington Station location – with classes operating seven days a week. Later in the year, Phillips expanded her business into Westbury and Great Neck. As a prior employee of many of Long Island's public schools, she said she has seen how gifted children have fallen victim to budget cuts time and time again – and that's why she's continually expanding.

But Village East Gifted doesn't accept just any student," Phillips said. The school has an acceptance rate of 3-4 students for every 10 applicants, but with good reason. Students can anticipate a curriculum in which they become versed in Latin, learn the wonders of marine biology, and, of course, a main curriculum three grade levels ahead of the students' current grade in school – starting at age 4. The students are taught all of this by teachers with no less than 25 years of prior experience.

Phillips said she wants her students to walk out of her classroom with "open doors."

"My goal is to have these kids have as many open doors as possible when they leave. I want them to be used to being around the kind of kids that are here, so that when they go into the workforce they have the skills to work on a team and accomplish collaborative goals," Phillips said.

Village East Gifted is located on 33 Walt Whitman Road, Suite 111 at Huntington Station. For more information go to www.villageeastgifted.com or call 631-549-2313.

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