Love of children keeps Houston’s Teacher of the Year coming back to the classroom

Houston Teacher of the Year can't see himself doing any other job

Ike Thompson of Veterans High School was named Houston County's Teacher of the Year during the distict's Open Session on Tuesday.
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Ike Thompson of Veterans High School was named Houston County's Teacher of the Year during the distict's Open Session on Tuesday.

Ike Thompson loves English, but what he loves most about being an educator is the kids. The Veterans High School teacher was named the Houston County Teacher of the Year during the district’s annual Open Session on Wednesday morning.

The event, held at Southside Baptist Church in Warner Robins, kicked off the school year for the school district’s employees. Students start back Wednesday.

Finalists for the award were Summer Collins, Centerville Elementary; Kaitlyn Bryant, Parkwood Elementary; Travis Phelps, Thomson Middle; and Henry Jones Jr., Westside Elementary.

“They say that high school teachers a lot of times do this because of the love for their craft or the love for their content,” Thompson said. “No doubt about it, I love English, but I love working with adolescent kids. I don’t really see me doing anything else but working in the field of education going forward because of how much I love working with these kids.”

Thompson, who’s been teaching for 13 years, said the award was “one of the proudest moments of my life.” He has taught AP English and language arts at Veterans since it opened in 2010. He previously worked at Houston County High School for four years and in Macon County for a year.

“He certainly is a great teacher, and the kids there at Veterans High School love him and he goes all out,” Houston County school Superintendent Mark Scott said. “He gives it 110 percent every day. We’re just so proud of him and his accomplishments.”

Thompson moved to Georgia from Michigan 14 years ago, and in the Houston school district, he found a family away from home that stepped in and encouraged him to stay the course, Thompson said. Eight members of his real family traveled from Michigan to surprise him at Open Session.

“I hope some day I’m able to give back to Houston County what Houston County has given me,” Thompson said. “I know that we are working for a rock star system in the state of Georgia. I hope that throughout this year and the rest of my career I prove validity in such a prestigious accolade.”

Scott highlighted the district’s many national and state awards last year and areas where it has made gains, such as in College and Career Ready Performance Index and Georgia Milestones scores, graduation rates and school climate ratings.

Literacy is the district’s theme for 2017-18. Ashley Watkins, a kindergarten teacher at Shirley Hills Elementary and the district’s Teacher of the Year last year, challenged attendees to help students discover a love for literacy by reading aloud to them in class and matching them with books to fit their interests.

The system will also focus on strong standards-based instruction, the Multi-Tiered System of Supports student instruction and intervention approach, and transforming schools into professional learning communities this year, Scott said.

“Please don’t ever forget just how significant you in the lives of your students,” Watkins told attendees. “You matter and you make a difference each and every day.”