Yearbook advisor Phil Nobblitt came to a career in teaching through a circuitous route that eventually led to journalism and becoming a publications advisor. After two years as an undergraduate at Old Dominion University, took a break from school to work as a Nuclear Security Officer at the North Anna Power Station for five and a half years. He credits his wife with motivating him to go back to college and graduate.
“I carried a rifle on my shoulder, a pistol on my hip, and a novel in my vest for 12 hours a day, four days a week,” Nobblitt said. “If it wasn’t for my wife being so supportive and confident in me, I’m not certain I would have finished college at all. I would have just kept my job at the power plant until the radiation killed me.”
According to Nobblitt, he has always been an avid reader and writer. When he returned to college at the University of Mary Washington, he began an online literary magazine called The Tomfoolery Review with four of his friends.
“We would take in humourous student-created microfiction, poetry, and short films,” Nobblitt said. “It was a fun experience because again it was all humor-based, which is what I think gravitated students to it. After graduation, we considered sticking with it, but that was a pipe dream.”
Nobblitt continues to write short stories, and his ultimate dream would be to produce enough short stories to create a collection.
“I write short stories all the time, and most of them are about life occurrences. I had a professor who said, ‘There’s no point in making anything up because life is so interesting there is enough material to write forever,’ and that really resonated with me,” Nobblitt said. “And the fact that I was a little bit older, that I had experienced more, it gave me some new tools and ideas that were usable.”
Nobblitt thanks his father, who was a teacher at Madison County High School, for being his inspiration to begin his teaching career.
“Former students would walk up to him and let him know how much they learned from him, or that they appreciated everything he ever did for them,” Noblitt said. “That made me so proud to have him as a father. I found how rewarding the profession of teaching could be through him.”
Senior Anna Hiner was on the yearbook staff when Nobblitt made the transition to take over from Nicole Schiffhauer. Now, a year later, his class has become her favorite class of the day.
“I was really nervous at first because he had different ideas from our previous yearbook teacher, but it’s clear now that he definitely knows what he’s doing,” Hiner said. “[He] is a great teacher. He’s put up with so much from us, but he still respects us. We can talk to him about a personal problem or politics or just a funny story, so it’s cool that we can confide in him.”
After graduating with a master’s in education from UMW, Noblitt got a job at Madison County High Schools for four years where he advised the yearbook and newspaper and also taught English and creative writing. He says that transferring to FHS has been his best employment decision. After working with publications, he can no longer see himself teaching without being the yearbook advisor.
“I love the fact that [yearbook] is something new every single year. There is no way to become stagnant in being a yearbook advisor. It’s a new crew, a new theme every single year. It sounds really cliché and everything, but it’s interesting to watch the staff evolve over the course of the year,” Nobblitt said. “It’s fun watching the kids grow and almost become a family with each other, and that’s what makes it tough. The toughest part of this position is to know these guys literally for two, sometimes three years and towards the end of the year, I develop this kind of separation anxiety. But that’s one of the more rewarding parts of the job.”
~nina quiles, managing editor