By Eamonn Conlin

Birth nameLori Jean Phipps
BornDecember 20, 1967
Hayward, California
MediumEducation Teaching/Writing
Years active1984–present
GenresEarly Childhood Education
Children’s Books
Fiction Book—Romantic Comedy
Non-Fiction Book—Autobiographical
Subject(s)Psychology, Education, Theater


Lori JeanMiss LoriPhipps (born December 20, 1967) is an American teacher and writer, born in Hayward, California, to Colleen and Larry Phipps; a chef/food production manager and a forest service worker/surveyor/stay home dad/screen printer. She was raised in a low-income household with four brothers—two older, two younger: Robert Allen, David Wade, Donovan, and Christopher. In fact, there was a point in her childhood where almost four months went by when she thought they were on an extended camping trip, only to learn later that they were homeless. After age five her family moved to Willamette Valley, eventually settling in Klamath Falls, Oregon, where she was raised. Her first job was at age fifteen as an assistant teacher at “Art in the Park” and then at the “YMCA” where she was a lifeguard, and assisted children with swim lessons, discovering the undeniable truth that kids gravitate to her as much as she does to them. In her spare time she would write; long letters (to relatives and friends), short stories, dreams, thoughts, plans, schedules—always organizing, always writing. Then in 1984 her family uprooted her to Chico, California, where she worked at “Children’s World” as a teaching assistant and attended Chico Senior High School, where she studied drama at Chico Senior High School and became enamored with performing while starring in a lead role as Helena in a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Her life awakened by the smell of the stage and the echo of audience laughter and applause. And although she was accepted into Allan Hancock in Southern California where she had hoped to become a famous actress, the money was not there to make this transition. So she chose the level-headed path, and after graduation in 1986, she moved to Walnut Creek, California, and attended Diablo Valley College, studying theater, psychology and early childhood education while continuing to teach at two separate daycare centers and work evenings as a movie theater cashier. She values having a strong work ethic; remaining employed with only a two month period of unemployment in thirty years is something she’s incredibly proud of. While working as an assistant director at Kids Only Club she was able to get her theater fix and directed several children plays. She pondered the idea of opening up her own theater for kids, but again, an adventure too costly for her budget. Later on she became a certified preschool head teacher during the afternoon and a medical transcriptionist receptionist at night, and managed to attend U.C. Berkeley where she studied theater. Unable to financially afford to continue her education at the university, she was forced to move back home (the only two months she was ever unemployed). She then attended Santa Rosa Junior College, Butte College, Chico State and Yuba College continuing to study child development and psychology. Discovering that credits at different institutions do not transfer it took her eleven years of college to finally achieve an Associate’s degree. Although she has a total of 150 + college units (equivalent to that of a doctorate) on her transcripts, she advises others not to follow her path and stay at one institution—preferably one that is affordable. After directing an afterschool sports program and managing Natural High Health Club, located in the small rural town of Orland, California, a short twenty minute drive from Chico, California, and setting aside her dream to become famous, she chose to follow a more blissful path and make a difference with a new and younger generation, and open up her own preschool center. While planning this dream to be a director of her own school, with no money in site to make this possible, she continued to write and organize and plan. She’s always written long twenty page letters to her friends and e-mails of similar length, since for her it is where she can be herself and thrive. For her, writing is comparable to a roller-coaster ride; exhilarating and rejuvenating—her leg jitters up and down, often bouncing in her chair, hands clap intermittently, and high pitched screams escape her lips as the letters rise from the page as she bubbles with enthusiasm to get it all out. This euphoric feeling comes when she writes, is performing on stage or has made a child feel they have an exceptional gift, which she believes every child has. Growing up intensely shy she’s yearned to make the outcasts, the quiet ones, the sensitive souls and the unique creatures of this world feel okay as they are—something she does automatically with young children. “It’s as if we get each other. I feel as if I can see inside them, into their depth; their fears and desires. And all I want to do is connect and help them realize their talents, so they can let go and feel okay to be who they are, become self-actualized and strive to be the best they can be.” The simple act of reading a story to young children feeds that performance side of her while stimulating a connection and uplifting their little minds and hearts. The tears roll down her face when she realized that teaching little ones was her calling all along. It also prompted her to write her own children’s books and thus began her writing career. She received various certificates of notable accomplishments for her commitment to educating children and has self-published various children’s books;  Pumpkinpants, Little Turkeys, Tis the Season to be Molly, A Makeup Surprise for My Valentine Eyes, Lizzie the Lazy Leprechaun and Eddie the Edible Easter Bunny, as well as several adult books; Get it?, Life After Lipstick, Diary of a Preschool Teacher, plentyofpickles.com, Aftertaste, Pink House Purple Cow and The Big Kid Method. You can visit the author online on Facebook @ BIG KID Books. www.facebook.com/lorijeanphippsbooks

There were always people along the way who inspired her, encouraged her to dream big and sent her in the direction of her dreams. She knows she would not have anything if she didn’t have faith in her abilities, trust in others and acceptance of other’s assistance—something which has always been difficult, wanting to do everything on her own. An immense amount of gratitude and an enormous thank you go out to the following pivotal people in her life who’ve made a difference in who she’s become and in the direction her life has taken: Colleen Phipps, Larry Phipps, Gayle Elliott, Michael Belkofer, Terry Schimke, Elizabeth Porter, Christina and Michael McDonald, Tammy and Damien Rush and Christopher Phipps.

She would never have developed the intellectual ability, integrity, compassion (the “do unto others” philosophy), sense of self-confidence, strong work-ethic, unconditional acceptance of others or undeniable appreciation of life, without her parents, who have laid the groundwork for her to become a humanitarian idealist.

She would never have gone to college, in 1986, and developed her theatrical ability, furthered her intellectual capabilities and discovered who she is and what her true talents are if it wasn’t for the encouragement and faith of Gayle Elliott and the perseverance and support of her friend Michael Belkofer, who introduced her to Diablo Valley College, and helped her to realize her dream was possible.

She would never have opened her first school in Orland, California, in 1999, Kids First Learning Center, if it weren’t for Christina and Michael McDonald, who allowed her to renovate a back room at their health club to open her first preschool center.

And if it weren’t for Tammy and Damien Rush, she would never have had a relocation site for her center and have been able to continue her school from 2004—2016.

And, if it weren’t for her youngest brother, Christopher Phipps, and her friends Terry and Scott Schimke, she wouldn’t have been able to become a homeowner in Chico, California, (blocks from her mom’s home), and have the opportunity to continue to teach with her school next door.

These people have saved her career and, in many ways, her soul—because, for her, teaching is her soul. Her primary goal is to help children feel that their dreams are possible. Her “paying it forward” is giving to those that same inspiration that was given to her that made her believe that anything is possible.

Early life/Awards

Lori Jean Phipps was born on December 20, 1967 in Hayward, California. Her mother, Colleen Marie “Olson” Phipps, born (October 16, 1942), and her father, Lawrence Edward Phipps (March 18, 1941 – April 29, 2010), met in Fremont, California. Colleen worked at Lenkurt Electronics and Larry had just left the U.S. Navy and was attending college. The middle of five children, Lori Jean’s siblings are Robert, David, Donovan, and Christopher. Lori Jean described herself during her early years as “extremely shy” surrounded in a busy, loud household of boys, Lori Jean often spent hours alone in her room or outside, writing; where she developed a dream world—where her words could be heard.

As a young girl Lori Jean attended Shasta Elementary School in Klamath Falls, Oregon and began to develop an interest in music, art and reading—English was her favorite subject. She played the violin from sixth through ninth grade, where she met her lifelong friends; Carrol Ann Ruddock (Carrol Ann DeBusk) and Likelee One Blackman (Likelee One Snook). During this time in her life she won a George Washington Poetry Contest, received a Presidential Physical Fitness Award signed by Ronald Reagan, and various Music Achievement Awards for her violin solos. She moved around a lot, attending various elementary schools, as well as three different high school; Klamath Union High School, Henley High School and Chico Senior High School. At Chico Senior High School, in Chico, California she blossomed, playing the role as Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, receiving an outstanding review for performing with variety and humor and was presented with a Drama Award. At age eighteen, directly after graduation, she moved to the Bay Area to pursue college and an aspiring acting career. Later on, in adulthood, after her dad passed away, she received second place for her poem “Shel Silverstein” and her poem “Daddy’s Little Girl” was selected as a finalist in a poetry contest. And in her teaching career she received various awards: Certificate of Appreciation, State and Local Children and Families Commission, June 2002, Certificate for Valuable Contributions to Children, Glenn County Office of Education, May 2002and Childcare Award; Provider Appreciation, Child Care Resource and Referral, May 2010. Editor’s Choice Award, World Poetry Movement, 2011.



Lori Jean Phipps is an aficionado of comedian memoirs, avid collector of snowmen paraphernalia, rainstorm enthusiast, red wine connoisseur, candle hoarder, water baby, national public radio diehard, ardent music lover, romantic comedy movie junkie, audacious self-published author, as well as an extraordinarily passionate preschool teacher and director, who is college educated with a background in theater, psychology and child development.

Although she’s extraordinarily independent and prefers to remain single, she has never been short of admirers. There is a statistic that claims the average person has twenty-six new kisses in a lifetime. Double that and you got her score—I guess that means she’s above average. She’s had several tumultuous personal relationships, as she is as passionate about her career, kids and writing as she is about people and living life to the fullest. And, although she’s had various long term relationships, and was even married briefly, she has never desired to have her own children because she wants to remain free to put her entire heart, soul and time into her preschool students; choosing rather to have balance in her life. Although she knows it’s possible to have both, she knows how challenging it can be. And as the years pass, it becomes transparent that she has made the right choice for her—career over motherhood suits her. Besides, enjoying alone time and not one to ever feel lonely, her little dog, Short Stack was her baby and companion for fifteen years, and now another purebred Maltese, Magic, keeps her personal time satisfying as well as entertaining.