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Midway Hills Academy 21’ - 22’ Teacher of the Year Yvonne Thompson on Student/ Parent Relationships

In the run up to the announcement of BCSD's 22'-23' Teacher of the Year, we spoke to our 21'-22' year winners about their commitment to teaching and what makes Baldwin School District stand out. This blog series highlights those incredible teachers and what they do to make a difference.

In many ways, Yvonne Thompson has been a teacher her entire life. Having a sister with an intellectual disability and a mother who taught first grade for over thirty years, Thompson was born into the role of teacher. “I was always working with my sister, trying to count money or reading different things,” Thompson said, “those two people, my mother and my sister, are the main reasons why I chose education.”

This past year was Thompson’s first year as the Early Intervention Program (EIP) Math Teacher for Midway Hills Academy. As an interventionist, Thompson serves students who have the greatest need for heightened academic instruction, which fits well with her background in Learning Disabilities and Special Education.

She first graduated from Georgia College in 1996, and in ‘98 received a Masters in Specific Learning Disabilities, again from GC. Before winning the 21’-22’ Teacher of the Year Award, Thompson had taught all subjects, primarily in grades four and five, but of her new position she said, “I am over the moon because I get to teach math all day long!” However, Thompson iterated that what is most important, in any subject, is that the student knows that their teacher cares.

Having taught now for nearly as long as her mother before her, Thompson has seen the importance of developing those relationships from an early age. She’s seen students who have grown from young children to full adults who have come back to tell her what a remarkable influence she's had on them when they were younger because of how much she cared. “It’s just so exciting to see the influence you’ve been able to create through those relationships with those children who know that you care about them.”

“It’s just so exciting to see the influence you’ve been able to create through those relationships with those children who know that you care about them.”

Thompson also said that those relationships were important in demonstrating to students that what they do now affects who they’ll be in the future. “They need to be actively engaged in their learning so that they can be productive citizens in the community as an adult,” she said, “they need to understand why they’re learning math; why they’re learning different reading concepts, and taking that from the classroom where they can build on it as they grow.”

Equally as important to the relationship between teacher and student, and that is often overlooked, is the relationship between the teacher and the student’s parents. “Sometimes there’s a disconnect,” she said, “maybe the parent didn’t have such good relationships in school, or maybe when the child comes home they give one story, and then we have to work together to fill in the whole story, but making the parent actually a part of the process and getting them involved is imperative.” Thompson said that in her 28 years of teaching she’s never met a parent who doesn’t care about their child, so getting them involved is a top priority. “Without parental support, your job becomes ten times more difficult.”

By enacting Yvonne Thompson’s three-pronged approach to student success; A) getting them to know you care, B) helping them understand the greater context of the work, and C) involving their parents, Thompson was able to earn her place as a top tier teacher during a time when communicating with parents and their students was at its most difficult.

During the shutdown, Thompson had to dig deep to find new ways to communicate with parents and students on a personal level. “Some of those parents were there, when I came into their world through Zoom,” she said, “but some were not. Older brothers and sisters might have been helping with the schoolwork.” By removing the barriers and opening herself up to being easy to talk to, she was able to help those parents understand that she really did care about their children, and that made all the difference in the world.

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