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Love of Chemistry Sparks Teaching Career

Meet Coach Thompson. He has been teaching for a total of 41 years, and he has spent his last 14 years teaching at Brookwood High School, where he teaches AP Chemistry.

From a young age, he was passionate about chemistry. His interest for this subject was sparked by his own high school chemistry teacher. This enthusiasm for chemistry continued to develop as he won 2nd place at the state science fair and had the opportunity to spend a week with NASA. Coach Thompson explains, “It was particularly exciting during this time period since the U.S. had recently sent its first man to the moon, and I was just a country boy who lived his whole life in North Carolina.” This was surely an experience that served as a catalyst for his immersion in the realm of science.

Although chemistry has always been of interest to him, teaching was not what he originally planned on pursuing. While he was a junior in college, he was working at a cotton mill, making $1.18 an hour, and he hoped to later become a chemist. However, one day, his friend, who was a 7th grade math teacher, was involved in a car accident and was unable to teach. Coach Thompson was asked to be a substitute for five weeks, and it was during that time that he found a love for teaching.

Forty one years later, he is still full of the passion and vigor that started his teaching career. Coach Thompson enjoys the challenge teaching provides, and he says it is what inspires him to continue. Upon being asked the most valuable lessons he has learned through his many years of experience, he answers he has learned not to take student successes and failures personally. He explains how he can do his job to the best of his ability, but his students have to do their job as well, referring to two posters above his whiteboard that delineate both student and teacher roles. He says, “I have learned how to accept temporary failure, be my own judge, and set my own standard of excellence.” However, these lessons, he explains, took 30 years of experience to grasp.

The impact he has had on his students is evident. Serena Mercado, a current student of Coach Thompson, says, “He cares a lot about us. He is focused on our learning, and he is very lively and engaging.” She mentions that in his class she has learned the importance of working hard, and she has seen how hard work yields success. “He prepares us well and teaches us that we’re accountable for our growth.”

Brookwood High School is very thankful for the ways Coach Thompson has invested in the lives of his students and for the ways he has dedicated himself to challenging his students to grow in their knowledge. He has and continues to inspire new generations of lifelong learners.