Q&A with Retiring English Teacher, Joe Stephens


Kadence Perez

Retiring English teacher Joe Stephens.

After 26 years at PHS, English teacher and senior class co-sponsor, Joe Stephens, is retiring. Before his retirement, he spoke with The Journal.

Q: How long have you been teaching at PHS? 

A: I started at PHS in 1997, so this will be my 26th year.

Q: Why did you want to become a teacher?

A: I knew in 7th grade I wanted to be a teacher. I have always felt like God gave me a servant’s heart, and teaching was something I had a facility for, so it worked perfectly. 

Q: How long have you been teaching?

A: I’ve taught full time for 27.5 years, with about six years as a sub.

Q: Favorite memory of the school or of teaching? 

A: Too many! A truly sweet memory, though, is the time we were doing our Gift of Words presentations and one of my students said we needed to go to the auditorium for hers. When we got there, the whole choir was inside. They sang, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” which is my favorite poem. That meant the world to me. And, of course, there’s getting to be Lauren’s teacher her senior year. 

Q: What’s something you’ll miss?

A: I’ll miss the relationships with the kids. I’ve gotten to spend quality time with so many amazing people over the years.  

Q: What is the plan for retirement? 

A: I’ll work at my church, sub, write, and travel with Sarah. 

Q: Describe your career at PHS in one word.

A: Rewarding

Q: Are you an alumni at PHS?

A: No, I graduated from, ahem, that school across the river.  

Q: What were you like as a student? 

A: In high school, the best way to describe me was with the sentence my parents heard every time they met with a teacher or counselor: “Joe has a lot of potential, if he would only apply himself.” 

Q: What advice would you give to students? 

A:My best advice comes from my favorite musical, Les Miserables: “To love another person is to see the face of God.”

Q: What’s something that your students would be surprised to know about you? 

A: I got suspended my last week of senior year and almost didn’t get to walk. Yes, I deserved it. No, I won’t tell you why.