2020 Citywide Teacher of the Year

Rachel Thompson2020 Citywide Teacher of the Year
Rachel  Thompson

Rachel Thompson, a Spanish teacher at Princess Anne High School (PAHS), is the 2020 Virginia Beach City Public Schools (VBCPS) Citywide Teacher of the Year. Superintendent Aaron Spence made the announcement at the annual Teachers of the Year dinner May 2 at the Westin Virginia Beach Town Center.

Thompson has been teaching for 15 years, all with VBCPS, and was previously named the Distinguished Educator of the Year for PAHS in 2009, 2010 and 2018 and Rookie Foreign Language Teacher of the Year in 2006.

"Mrs. Thompson's passion for teaching is evident by her relentless dedication to helping her students with course content as well as all aspects of their lives," wrote PAHS Principal Danny Little in his nomination of Thompson. "She truly stands out for the selfless sacrifices she makes to provide our students opportunities to grow in all aspects of their lives."

Little added, "Mrs. Thompson embodies all of the characteristics that make an exceptional educator; she is passionate about teaching, eager to stay abreast of current pedagogy and knowledge and exemplifies a growth mindset."

Rachel ThompsonAfter graduating from Saint Louis University in Madrid, Spain with a bachelor's in Spanish Philology and English Literature, Thompson returned to the United States without knowing what her future held; until a former teacher asked her to substitute teach.

"I was hooked," Thompson wrote in her Teacher of the Year application. "I learned to teach, and by the end of the year, those children were not just students, they were my students. My students are mine for life. I'm their reference for their first jobs. I attend their weddings and meet their babies. They're the best part of the job."
Thompson has since earned her master's degree in writing with a focus in translation from Vermont College of Fine Arts and plans to pursue a second master's degree in Spanish language and culture at the Universidad de Granada in Spain.

"I am still learning, still improving, still working every day to inspire my students to travel farther, empathize more deeply and never, ever, stop learning," she wrote.

In addition to her hours in the classroom, Thompson devotes her time to support the school's Model U.N. team and Operation Smile club, sponsors the PAHS Gay-Straight Alliance, serves as co-chair of the School Planning Council and helps as an interpreter for Spanish-speaking parents during division events.

This year, thanks to a sponsorship with Checkered Flag Toyota, Thompson received a free 2020 Toyota Corolla for a year. During the dinner celebration, hosted by the Virginia Beach Education Foundation (VBEF), she also received a $200 Massage LuXe spa package, a week's stay in an Orlando villa, $500 from McDonald's Restaurant owned and operated by Hugh Fard, $1,000 from the VBEF and $1,000 from the Department of Teaching and Learning to spend on instructional supplies for her classroom.

Rachel Thompson standing in front of her 2020 Toyota Corolla provided by Checkered Flag Toyota Thompson was selected as the 2020 VBCPS Citywide Teacher of the Year from an initial pool of 87 Teachers of the Year. The selection committee visited the classrooms of and interviewed five finalists to determine the citywide winner. The other finalists are: Nancy Julcher, a special education teacher at Alanton Elementary School; Anthony Nobles, an eighth grade civics teacher at Plaza Middle School; Rachel M. Thompson, a health and physical education teacher at Old Donation School; and Dr. Charlene Winley, a kindergarten teacher at Holland Elementary School.

For more information about the school division's 2020 Teacher of the Year program, visit vbschools.com or contact the Department of Teaching and Learning at 757-263-1070.