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Phillip Michael Winston, M.A.

Phil Phillip Michael Winston

Phil graduated from Santa Clara University with a Master’s in Special Education. He later earned a Master’s in Educational Administration and obtained his special education teacher, principal, and director licensures. Phil has 25 years of direct experience in the educational system in roles including special education teacher in grades K-8 and the juvenile justice system, high school principal, special education coordinator, and director in a large, major metropolitan school district. Before transitioning out of public education, Phil oversaw special education services for over 10,000 students in over 200 schools. Phil's expansive experience in the public education system provides a unique insight into a complex system designed for neurotypical learners. 


In 2013, Phil was himself the target of false accusations within the district where he was working. These accusations were unfounded and Phil remained in the district. However, he was left with a label that continued to follow him. Feeling ostracized and abandoned by the district that had set him up to lead large-scale changes, he felt that for his own mental health and that of his family, it was best to part amicably and refocus his efforts on what he loves most. He shifted his work to the juvenile justice system and was able to see firsthand the results of a failed education system. After years of developing and educating adjudicated youth, he moved back into public education. He quickly became a leader who challenged past practices and consistently asked, “Why not?” when challenges were presented. Phil quickly rose through the ranks of leadership in special education in a major metropolitan district to become the Director of Special Education, Instruction, and School Supports. 


Phil earned a reputation for challenging legacy practices and implementing inclusive practices in education. Phil also learned that public education can be very political and that he couldn't escape a label that prevented him from spearheading the significant change he was passionate about. Phil realized that his potential to actively work in the best interest of students lay outside the public education system and that his passion for inclusivity and the rights of students with disabilities would be more directly impactful in the role of an advocate and consultant. 


Phil now uses his experience in an effort to help students and families who do not want to be defined by perceived shortcomings. Through his personal experiences, Phil knows firsthand the importance of being seen and heard, regardless of perceived challenges or disabilities. He believes that every student deserves equal opportunities and support to thrive academically and socially. Phil is dedicated to empowering students and their families by providing them with the necessary resources and guidance to navigate the education system and advocate for their rights. 


The main competitive advantage of Sage is its exceptional insight into the political functioning of large and competitive school districts. Through the lens of a former director of special education, Sage offers exceptional insight into how to support families and students.  


Phil's experiences representing a district in state complaints, corrective action plans, due process and mediation give him a unique insight that will prove useful in advocating for the rights of students with disabilities.

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