Damein Phoenix ’13 MA has seen his teaching career take him halfway around the world. Now, back home in New Jersey, he’s returned to his roots as an educational leader in the city where he grew up.
Phoenix serves as an assistant principal at East Orange Campus High School.
“I feel students can identify with me because I can relate to some of their stories and some of the circumstances they may face,” he says.
Phoenix is among the Montclair State alumni of the nationally ranked Educational Leadership programs who are making a difference shaping the learning and experiences of their students in New Jersey and beyond.
“When you have students come back and tell you their stories, and tell you how much of an impact the things you’ve either said or done have had, words can’t express how rewarding that is,” Phoenix says.
Phoenix attended The Graduate School while teaching math, returning home after a stint teaching calculus to international students in Johannesburg and students attending local farm schools in Soweto, South Africa.
“Montclair State gave me the tools I need to be a resource and a value to students,” says Phoenix. “Transparency, communication and clear expectations, I learned that straight out of the program. I utilize them all the time.”
Phoenix says, “I urge students to understand that anything is possible, provided you have enough time, effort and intention behind it. My life has been enriched with different experiences. I’ve lived in different parts of the world. I’ve lived in different parts of New Jersey.
“So, I’ll often tell them, ‘Step out, go and learn about life outside of New Jersey so that you can come back enriched.’ That has been my main message.”
–Marilyn Joyce Lehren