Graniteville, SC (WJBF) - The energy in Phil Sirk's classroom at Leavelle McCampbell Middle School is awesome. He's into it. His students are into it. They love to learn.
"This classroom is my happy place and my students know that when they come in," Sirk says. "It's the environment that you set up. It's the expectations that you give. And, more importantly, it's the strength that you put inside of them that they may not understand that they have."
And that helps these kids have confidence. It helps them stay locked into Mr. Sirk's Social Studies lessons.
"My background in government, in journalism, that's my major, opened up to asking questions. Even if it's something that on the surface may not seem interesting, everything has a story."
When he's not in the classroom, Mr. Sirk is in the courtroom. He leads the school's mock trial team.
"We're judged on our knowledge of the case at hand. But mostly, how we comport ourselves, how we speak, how we ask the questions. Have we done the research? And we are going up against another school and we're graded on that."
Phil Sirk believes in his students. He knows that they have the capability to go as far as they want in life.
"If you realize, they got skills, you just need to learn how to tap into them. When somebody says, 'he's giving you a hard time,' No. He's having a hard time. If you approach it that way, what you find is you can reach that person. I don't reach everyone of the kids. But they will tell you this, I will be direct and I will give them a chance."
"That glow that you see going on in this room, it's not me putting it in them," he says. "It's them allowing them to feel comfortable enough to let it come out. Shine comes from within."
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