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Meet Phyllis

Phyllis L. Fagell

Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Certified Professional School Counselor and Journalist

Phyllis L. Fagell is a licensed clinical professional counselor, certified professional school counselor and journalist.

She has worked in both public and private schools with students in grades K-12, focusing on middle school for the last several years. She currently works full time as the school counselor for Sheridan School in Washington, D.C. Sheridan School has been named a 2017 National School of Character. Phyllis also provides therapy to children, teens and adults in private practice at the Chrysalis Group, Inc.

As a journalist, Phyllis writes regular columns for Washington Post on counseling, parenting and education. She writes a weekly advice column for PDK, Intl. for educators, and she blogs for a number of highly-respected national education associations and counseling publications, including AMLE (Association of Middle Level Educators) and Character Dot Org. Her articles often are syndicated by Bloomberg, and they also are reprinted by newspapers throughout the world. She has written for psychology publications including Counselling Café and PsychReg, both in the UK.

Representative middle school topics include:

  • Anxiety and the pressure to succeed
  • Surviving gossip
  • Taking risks
  • Growth mindset
  • Grades and expectations
  • Social turmoil
  • Different learning styles
  • Lying
  • Communicating with teen boys
  • Empowering girls
  • Romantic love
  • Career development
  • Bullying
  • Preparing kids for a changing world
Middle School is a complicated time and parents have all kinds of questions. Should I make my child stick with an activity he hates? Why does my daughter insist on hanging out with girls who send her mean texts? How can I get my son to do his homework?
Phyllis Fagell

- Phyllis Fagell

Expert and Journalist

The U.S. Department of Education has run one of Phyllis’s articles in its weekly publication, and middle school principals and mom bloggers often include her articles on their websites. The American School Counseling Association also has posted her articles on social media. The Australian version of the AMLE, called Adolescent Success, based an online ‘My Ed Oz Discussion’ on Phyllis’s article “Ten Skills Middle School Students Need to Thrive.” After she wrote about teaching middle school students about love, NPR interviewed her for a special Valentine’s Day piece that went viral. It was shared more than 2,200 times in its first day on Facebook. News outlets around the world have run her stories, including the Sydney Morning Herald, The Chicago Tribune, The Calgary Herald and the Hong Kong Education Post.

Phyllis’s article on “The Myth of the Straight A” generated tremendous interest. She was interviewed about the topic on Family Confidential, a podcast aired by international parenting expert Annie Fox. Another podcast, Parenting Bytes, also discussed this story in one of its episodes.

For her article on empowering middle school girls, her Washington Post editor noted that “more than 100,000 individual people read the piece online alone.” Her articles on communicating with teen boys and empowering teenage girls were featured on the front page of the Washington Post Living section. Her article on recovering from bullying also is an upcoming Living cover story.

Phyllis wrote “Sheltering in Place,” short fiction about a 14-year-old boy in a public middle school, that was published this year in the book District Lines. She was invited to read the piece at Politics & Prose, a landmark independent bookstore in Washington, D.C.

She presents at conferences, sits on panels and speaks at both public and independent schools. Most recently, she presented at the ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) conference in Anaheim, CA and the AMLE conference in Austin, TX. She covers a range of topics, including stress reduction/mindfulness, parenting middle schoolers, teaching teens about love, fostering creativity and navigating middle school social drama.

Phyllis attended Dartmouth College (BA in creative writing), the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University (MSJ in magazine editing) and Johns Hopkins University (MS in counseling). She lives in Bethesda, MD and has three children, ages 15, 13 and 9.

 “Everyone wants kids to treat each other with kindness, and parents, coaches, mentors and educators are role models who can set the tone.”