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Physical Education Instructor and Award-Winning Coach of Girls’ Basketball Team

Phyllis Verdell
2015, Doctor of Education in Teaching and Learning
2010, Education Specialist, Instructional Leadership
Argosy University, Atlanta
Physical Education Teacher at McEachern High School

“Argosy University, Atlanta has a flexible schedule and they have blended classes, which was more suitable for my busy schedule. I could complete a lot of my work online. In addition, I could take my comprehensive exam midway through my classes to receive my specialist degree.”

Dr. Phyllis Verdell is a physical education teacher for 9-12 grade students at McEachern High School in Powder Springs, Georgia. She’s also the school’s head girls’ basketball coach.

Verdell earned a Doctor of Education in Teaching and Learning from Argosy University, Atlanta in 2015. She says that her education at Argosy University prepared her for the transition she wants to make after teaching and coaching at the high school level.

“I knew that having my doctorate degree would look good on my resume. After speaking to several colleges and universities, I chose Argosy University, Atlanta. The school has a flexible schedule and they have blended classes, which was more suitable for my busy schedule. I could complete a lot of my work online. In addition, I could take my comp exam midway through my class to receive my specialist degree,” said Verdell.

Balancing work, life, and school was a big challenge. During her time as a student at Argosy University, Verdell’s basketball team won three state titles and her mother passed away. “There were times I could have given up. I wanted to give up. It was as if my [instructors] read my mind and heart. They would make positive comments or suggestions that would lift me up. I would find the energy to push forward,” said Verdell.

Verdell believes Argosy University, Atlanta’s, “faculty and staff were very helpful and flexible with the working students' schedules. They were very supportive in the classroom and outside of the classroom. I was so blessed to have been in a school where the [instructors] understand the demands on students who have a full-time job and a full-time life outside of college,” she said.

Verdell began her coaching career at Pebblebrook High School in Cobb County, Georgia, where she took the team to the state’s Elite Eight for the first time in 15 years. Her next coaching job, at McEachern High School, started in 2006. She was the first black female head coach of a major sport in Cobb County.

As basketball took up more of her time, Verdell found innovative ways to fit in her classwork at Argosy University. “I found myself at my job until sometimes 11 pm at night and was back at 5 the next morning. In between classes and during my planning, I would work on my papers or projects that were due. I was so delighted and happy I was back in school,” she said.

In 2011, her basketball team made it to the state championship game—and lost. “I decided that would never happen again,” she said. “So I made up in my mind I would work harder and smarter both on the court and in the classroom. I found a group of Argosy University, Atlanta students and we became each other’s cheerleaders. As I continued to work on my degree, I started to win championships.” Her success on the court meant that she had to take off a few semesters of school. “Once it was time for me to write my dissertation, my chair and my committee gave me flexibility and a strong arm push to keep going forward.”

“Whatever it took for me to complete my dissertation and win state championships, I did it,” she said. She continued, “I’ve spoken to my students [about how I was] teaching, coaching, and attending Argosy University, Atlanta full-time to receive my degree. [This] let them know that there were no excuses as to why they could not prepare for exams, or why they could not complete their homework.”

Her accolades include being named Teacher of year at Lavonia Elementary, Coach of the Year for Volleyball at Cedar Shoals, Coach of the Year at Pebblebrook High School, Coach of the Year at McEachern High School, and winning the state championship in 2012 with an undefeated record of 33-0. She was awarded the Bobby Cremins Coach of the Year award twice while at McEachern High School, won state championships in in 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017 and was She was named Coach of the Year each of those years and a a finalist for National Coach of the Year in 2012.

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