Though many of you have known me for a few years, most do not know that one of the reasons I have an affinity for Tehachapi and its students is that my beginnings were even more small town than Tehachapi. I grew up on a tobacco farm and never thought that I would get to go to college much less see myself as principal of a high school later in my life. There were only 18 students in my graduating class which was the first class to have students seek post-secondary education. I went to a small religious junior college where an English teacher ignited a spark in me and from there I went on to earn a B.S. in English from East Carolina University. I began my career in education as an English teacher at New Bern Senior High School in New Bern, North Carolina, where I met my husband Larry, a Marine officer and helicopter pilot. When children became part of our life, I took a ten year hiatus from teaching, during which time we relocated to Bakersfield, CA.
As our children became school age, I was recruited to teach religion at Garces Memorial High School for ten years, earning a Master of Arts degree in Religious Studies from Loyola Marymount. My husband’s work moved to Ventura, CA so I took a job as Vice-Principal/Dean of Curriculum at Bishop Garcia Diego High School for the next six years. While there I attended California State University Northridge where I was awarded another Master of Arts degree, this time in Educational Leadership and earned my administrative services credential. One of my classmates at CSUN urged me to work in public education at her site, Dos Pueblos High School, a National Blue Ribbon School, where I worked as one of three assistant principals for five years before transferring to rival high school, San Marcos. Having bought a retirement home in Bear Valley Springs to be near our children who had returned to Bakersfield as adults, we moved here later that year (much earlier than we expected) when there was an opening for assistant principal at THS seven years ago and the rest is history.
As Principal of THS, I am honored to be able to work with the wonderful students we have in our community and the fine faculty who have dedicated themselves in educational service to them. While I was earning my administrative credentials I reflected about my educational philosophy and wrote The Thompson Doctrine which describes what guides all I do as an administrator and I now share with you below:
I believe that:
· all students can and want to learn
· students are not doomed to repeat the failures of their past
· someone at the school site can be the catalyst that sparks
· staff need to be human to their students – to be vulnerable so students can see possibilities and make connections
· curriculum must be relevant – connections need to be made to life outside the classroom walls
· goal-setting should be a yearly activity at schools for individuals and groups
· celebration should be happening for small steps
· respect is the bottom line
· less is more
· high standards are essential in all areas
· my role is to make a difference daily with someone
· people come first