by Terry Rogers
Mispillion Elementary School’s Behavior Specialist, Robert McPhatter, believes that seeds planted in an elementary school child blossom in middle and high school. As the founder of the Gentleman’s Leadership Team at the school, he tries to focus on behavior from a positive perspective even though he often deals with the negative aspects of student behavior.
“I often say that I am living daily the job description that was written for my life,” McPhatter explained. “Listening and hearing the struggles and challenges that many youth today are faced with helps me have the patience to be understanding in many of their needs.”
McPhatter grew up in New Castle County and moved to Milford about 13 years ago after marrying his wife, Sharon. The couple has four children: Shawnise, Kenyana, EJ and Davion. He attended Delaware State University where he majored in Behavioral Science/Criminal Justice. Over the years, he has worked in the mental health field, both full and part-time, providing therapy for adolescents and adults. McPhatter has been with Milford School District for seven years. Three years ago, he and Bobby Croce created the Gentleman’s Leadership Team at Mispillion Elementary in order to mentor and provide necessary guidance to young men that would help them develop and grow.
The Gentleman’s Leadership Team meets once each week during school hours as many of the students would find transportation difficult after school. Students who appear to need the mentoring and guidance of the GLT are selected but all students are held responsible for attending meetings on their own. The young men are taught basic social skills like making eye contact and shaking hands. McPhatter explained that there are core values that are drilled into the team members at each meeting. These values include focus, inspire, lead and excel. Each young man wears a wrist band and pin to remind them of those core values each day.
“GLT is an extension of what I think my purpose at the school is,” McPhatter said. “My hearts passion has always been to work with youth and provide them the guidance they need to develop and grow. One of the most rewarding parts of what I do is planting seeds that will blossom as they grow.”
Teresa Wallace, Principal of Mispillion Elementary, says that McPhatter is an important asset to the students and the staff at the school.
“As a behavior interventionist at Mispillion, Robert McPhatter is a role model for our students,” Wallace said. “He makes connections with students and rewards positive behavior. He facilitates our grade level positive behavior assemblies and strives to keep a safe school environment for students, staff and families. We are lucky to have him with us.”
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