Phillips began his career in education in 1982. Phillips has been principal at Center Point since the school's inception in 2011. He was previously principal at Erwin High School, which was moved and renamed Center Point High. Phillips helped design the new school.
Phillips has been named the 2017 Principal of the Year in Alabama, was honored by the AHSAA as Wrestling Official of the Year in 2016, and was in Positive Maturity’s Top 50 over 50 in 2019. In 2020, Phillips was named Trussville Tribune "Person of the Year" for his accomplishments and dedication to the children of Center Point throughout his career and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Phillips retired in Spring 2022.
Phillips and his wife Pamela have two children, Van Jr and Morganne. Van Jr was a four-year starter in football and graduate of Grambling State University, while Morganne was all-American in indoor track at University of Kentucky.
- Couch, Frank (December 1, 2013) "Birmingham leaders you should know: Van A. Phillips Sr." The Birmingham News
- Thomas, Erica (October 11, 2019) "Center Point High School Principal Van Phillips: The man, the myth, the real deal." Trussville Tribune
- Thomas, Erica (December 15, 2020) "2020 Trussville Tribune’s Person of the Year: Center Point High School Principal Van Phillips." Trussville Tribune
- Davenport, Fred (January 18, 2022) "Beloved Center Point High School principal to retire after nearly four decades of service." WVTM13.com