Clover Park School District’s Jeffrey Thompson, a kindergarten teacher at Evergreen Elementary School on Fort Lewis, was selected to join USA Today’s 2007 All-USA Teacher Team.
“It’s such an honor to be recognized by USA Today and to be part of a national K-12 team,” said Thompson. “It is great to be a part of a program that recognizes the teaching profession.”
Thompson, who is in his 13th year of teaching, was nominated for the team by Casey LaRosa. Thompson and LaRosa met in 2004 when Thompson was selected as the National DisneyHand Teacher of the Year. No stranger to the spotlight, Thompson was recently selected as one of three national recipients of the Butler-Cooley Excellence in Teaching Award. He was also the 2004 Wal-Mart of the Year, an ING Unsung Heroes Award winnerand a Lakewood Rotary Outstanding Educator of the Month.
This is the 10th year of the teacher team program, which honors individuals and instructional teams throughout the county. As a member of the team, Thompson receives $500 and $2,000 for Evergreen.
Thompson, known as “Mr. T” to his “kinderfriends,” believes in the importance of challenging his students and their parents. His “Kinderparent University” is an example of that challenge.
“The first thing I convey to parents is that this is not your typical kindergarten-it is highly academic and I need them to partner with me,” said Thompson. “When it comes to the potential of my students, I’ve learned to keep pushing the envelope and that the sky is the limit-there should be no ceiling placed on the learning of my students.”
Twenty-five percent of the five- and six-year-olds in one of Thompson’s classes assessed as second grade readers at the end of their kindergarten year. Most of the rest of his students assessed beyond the first semester reading level goals for first grade in classes that meet only two and a half hours a day.
Most of Thompson’s students have a parent-typically father-deployed at least a year in Iraq or Afghanistan and 60 percent of Evergreen’s students leave before the school year ends because of a parent’s reassignment.
“The most difficult thing about teaching is the high mobility rate of our students,” said Thompson. “It’s hard enough to say goodbye to these students at the end of the year, but it saddens me when a child can’t finish their year in my Learning Lab.”
Becoming a teacher had tugged at Thompson since his college days as a business major. Friends pegged him as a natural for the classroom. He worked on his teaching certificate and master’s degree in education simultaneously, while working full time for the state as a contract negotiator.
For more information about the All-USA Teacher Team, visit allstars.usatoday.com.