BVVOlfSgRCCs9OoVNWNFg thumb 2ddNueva speech and debate teacher Les Phillips recently won the National Speech & Debate Association’s (NSDA) Seven Diamond Award, an honor bestowed upon only 50 coaches in the Association's 92-year history. The award recognizes both longevity and productivity, and is based on a point system, wherein a coach receives one point for every ten merit points earned by their students. A first diamond is earned when a coach receives 1,500 points, and additional diamonds are earned at specific intervals and for predetermined point totals.

When asked about the most rewarding part of receiving the Seven Diamonds Award, Les shared his excitement about this wonderful honor. “Only fifty speech and debate coaches have received this award. I like being celebrated as a perseverant survivor!”

Les has taught primarily high school and some college debate both in and out of the classroom for more than 35 years, mostly on the East Coast. For the past seven years, Les has been teaching in California, and is currently in his fourth year of teaching at Nueva.

In addition to his teaching experience, Les co-authored a textbook in the 1990s, and he is the author of A Dictionary of Speech and Debate (IDebate Press, 2016). For 12 years, Les was the NSDA New England district chair, and for four years each he was an alternate member of NSDA’s National Executive Committee and an NSDA liaison to the National Association of Urban Debate Leagues.

In reflecting on his four years of work with Nueva students, Les commented that “Nueva students are by nature and by training well-equipped for debate. They love inquiry; they are used to expressing learning through performance; they research well alone and also as members of a commune. They take ownership of their work, and they take pride in team-building.”

Les’s enthusiasm for his continued work as Nueva’s speech and debate teacher is certain to lead to further celebrations of his work. As Les said, “I’m eager to build our middle school program and, perhaps, introduce some international debate formats. I hope we can also develop more intramural and noncompetitive debate activities.”

Congratulations to Les for this well-deserved recognition of his work and longevity in the field!


 By Lily Brown, Upper School English Teacher

April 25, 2018



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