2020 Citywide Teacher of the Year finalist: Rachel K. Thompson

This is the fourth article in a series of profiles about each finalist for Virginia Beach City Public Schools’ 2020 Citywide Teacher of the Year. The citywide winner will be announced at the Teacher of the Year dinner hosted by the Virginia Beach Education Foundation May 2.

Princess Anne High School (PAHS) Spanish teacher Rachel Thompson discovered her love of teaching after substituting.

“I learned to teach, and by the end of the year, those kids were not just students, they were my students,” said Thompson. “I was hooked.”

She has taught for 15 years, all with Virginia Beach City Public Schools, but still finds knowledge each time she is in the classroom.

“I am still learning, still improving, still working every day to inspire my students to travel farther, empathize more deeply and never, ever, stop learning.”

For Thompson, it is important to share her passion of learning with her students.

“To me, teaching is inspiring student inquiry and fostering intercultural understanding,” she said. “My road to becoming a teacher was birthed out of the desire to inspire hope and build a strong foundation for children.”

She reports that 85 of her former students have had the opportunity to study abroad and 15 are currently living overseas to attend school or for employment.

“The overseas trips I offer my students forge memories that last a lifetime and create culturally-responsible travelers,” stated Thompson. “By engaging students in authentic cultural and linguistic experiences, it cultivates a growth mindset in them for life.”

“Mrs. Thompson’s passion for teaching is evident by her relentless dedication to helping her student with course content as well as all aspects of their life,” said PAHS Principal Danny Little. “She truly stands out for her selfless sacrifices she makes to provide our students opportunities to grow in all aspects of their lives.

Although she did not see herself becoming a teacher in the beginning of her career, Thompson now knows she has found her true calling.

“I cannot imagine having another career. Teaching is one of the greatest parts of my life and my students are the best part of the job.”

Visit the division’s Facebook and Twitter channels Thursday night to watch the 2020 Citywide Teacher of the Year announcement streamed live.

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