All In: ELA Teacher D’Andra McPhail Seeks The Best For His Students


Dennis Racket

Educator of Excellence: Shown above is English-Language Arts teacher D’Andra McPhail. McPhail is dedicated to the success of his students and embodies what it means to be apart of the Dubs community.

English-Language Arts teacher D’Andra McPhail is an educator, mentor, and above all else, an advocate for his students. Now in his fourth year at North Atlanta, he makes it a priority to support his students not only in their academic studies but also in their day-to-day struggles and successes.

For McPhail, education is a field that clearly runs in his blood as his mother is a longtime educator. She currently works within APS and in prior years was a teacher for schools in Dekalb, Henry, and Gwinnett counties. Although McPhail was not drawn to the profession earlier in his life, he underwent a shift in his career aspirations during his junior and senior years of high school when he was a student at Lovejoy High School. It was during this time that McPhail really connected with his teachers, who supported him amid his own parents’ rough divorce. “School was different and very necessary for me in this year,” he said. “It was the one place I knew what to expect when everything else wasn’t normal.”

The seed to become a teacher was planted in McPhail’s mind. After graduating from Lovejoy, he enrolled in the University of West Georgia in Carrollton where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English in 2012. McPhail then went to work as a teacher and spent his first five years in the profession in the Dekalb and Fulton county school systems. In 2017, McPhail transferred to APS’s North Atlanta, where he has taught various English courses ever since. He is currently finishing up his master’s degree in teaching and learning in Nova Southeastern’s online program and has two classes before he secures the advanced degree. 

Since he started at North Atlanta, McPhail has regarded his current teaching home as his “dream school.” “Not only does it have a good reputation and a solid staff, but it also aligns with my vision of myself as an educator,” he said. “I see myself as a top-level educator and because of that I want to be at a top-level school.”

Having experienced first hand the benefits of having supportive teachers in high school, McPhail knows the impact that he can have on his students. Toward that end, he makes a particular point to connect with anyone in his classes. These connections can come from shared interests in music, favorite foods, or even hobbies. And even if they don’t share the same interests, McPhail still finds a way to bond with his students and show his unwavering support. “That’s what I love about being human,” he said. “You don’t have to have everything in common with one another in order to click.”

McPhail’s students say they can’t help but be inspired by a teacher who brings such zeal and creativity to his classes. And those who have him as their teacher, oftentimes speak toward the sense of thankfulness they have. “He always finds a way to keep the class engaged and entertained throughout the lesson,” said sophomore Hugh Breeden. “Mr. McPhail is just a great teacher who makes class fun.”

McPhail goes above and beyond his duties as an educator, lending his advice and support to his students on matters that pertain to academics or those that go well beyond the classroom. Teachers can sometimes be distant from their students and remain in their seemingly “elevated” roles. McPhail, in contrast, said he learns as much from his students as they learn from him. For McPhail, it’s about perspective. There have been days when Warriors have inspired him to keep going with their resilience and strength. And no matter whether he has students with him in Room 5113 or in Zoom School classes, they’re always going to know that in D’Andra McPhail they have a teacher who is truly “all in” — on their behalf.