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

This is the fifth and final 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.

Old Donation School health and physical education instructor Rachel Thompson has education in her blood. Her father taught at a local community college and her mother taught English as a second language.

“I grew up in a community surrounded by education, teachers, scholars and learning,” said Thompson. “Education was a way of life for me.”

She said she chose health and physical education to teach the “whole child.”

“I teach because I want to give the next generation the tools to sustain a healthy lifestyle into the next decade and beyond,” said Thompson. “I teach because I have been given the skills to pay it forward and to guide students socially, emotionally and physically. I teach because relationship building is important to the success of the next generation in an ever-growing digital society.”

Involving community in her classroom is also important for Thompson.

“Engagement, education and community encompass the legacy I want to leave with my students.”

Thompson believes that teaching is an invitation to make connections.

“As a teacher, it is my calling, my continuing adventure, to build relationships as compelling, engaging and persuasive as possible,” she states. “The choice to accept the invitation must always be theirs.”

“Rachel Thompson’s passion and dedication define her,” said ODS Principal Kelly Hedrick. “Her enthusiasm and innovative ideas permeate all aspects of our community, from student learning to staff welfare.”

And, even though she has been teaching for 14 years, Thompson still looks to her parents as mentors.

“I want to be that teacher who, even after decades in the classroom – like my dad – sill leaves each session asking how the next might be better.”

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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