Carbon School District Press Release
Wes Thompson, Carbon School Districts 2020 Teacher of the Year, says he is a selfish person.
“I teach for a selfish reason,” he said a couple of days after he found out that his peers had selected him for the honor. “I teach because it gives me such joy to see my students succeed. In many ways, teachers live vicariously through their students’ success.”
Thompson has a great impact on his students, who love his classes and his way of instructing. But, the idea in his mind to become a teacher didn’t take the same path as many do that come to the profession.
When he graduated from Emery High School in 1993, he had no idea he would ever be back in a public school in any capacity. He served in the Navy where he worked in the nuclear power program on two ships. He was married during that time (to Shannon Thompson who teaches at Castle Heights Elementary) and they moved to Orem. He attended Stevens Henagar Business College and was awarded a Bachelors Degree in Computer Science. After graduation, he worked in private business.
In 2005, his wife went back to school to get her teaching degree, and he said she “inspired him” to go back and get his credentials to teach. In 2006, he began teaching at Mont Harmon Junior High and Lighthouse High School, later becoming full time at Lighthouse. Then, last fall, he began teaching at Carbon High.
He said the thing he loves the most about teaching is the interaction with the students and watching students “overcome hardships and complete things they didn’t think in the beginning they could.”
He said teaching is more than just imparting information and skills; trust is a big issue with kids, and Thompson knows it.
“Students have to trust you, and actually there has to be some vulnerability risk there too,” he said. “You have to put yourself out there, and you may get stung once in awhile. You have to build that relationship in order to be most effective.”
“Sometimes students think that you have to get straight A’s,” he stated. “Many kids are well aware of what they are bad at. So, I work to help them find what they are good at and then work to help them be great at that.”
Thompson teaches financial literacy, computer hardware classes, modern math and debate. He is also adding a new class next year: real estate. He recently got his real estate license and he said they already have students signed up for it.
Thompson has also spent some time utilizing Coal Strike Team funding to pick up extra education to teach students to get industry certifications in IT and its various derivatives.
“I think by doing that, I am showing students that I am willing to work hard so I can show them new things that will help them,” he said. “By doing that, I and other teachers that get further education, show them that being life long learner is a good thing.”