It’s no secret Jennifer Thomas has a passion for teaching and relishes each day in the classroom with her students. In 13 years as an educator at Turner High School, the relationships she’s formed on campus, and within the Kansas City, Kansas community, are gleaming examples of Thomas’ dedication to her profession.
During her tenure, Thomas has taught a variety of subjects; biology, physical science, chemistry and engineering design. She is also the developer and teacher of a new environmental science course at Turner High School. Thomas has acquired a plethora of knowledge and devotes each day to passing information along to her students.
“During my teaching career, I’ve been most proud when my students demonstrate their leadership abilities and increase their confidence,” said Thomas. “Through a Kauffman grant, I was able to bring school-wide environmental initiatives into the school, which were then led by my students.”
This included the planning, promoting and implementing of a lunchroom composting program, the installation of multiple schoolyard gardens which were used to feed the community, and the improvements for the nature trails and ponds on campus.
“The growth and empowerment students experience through relevant, place-based actions make me extremely proud to be an educator,” said Thomas.
Originally from Austin, Texas, but moving to Kansas City when she was eight-years-old, Thomas earned her teaching degree from UMKC and has spent her entire career inside the halls of Turner High School. In that time, she’s maintained one simple rule she asks her students to follow each and every year: Be Kind Always.
“Kindness isn’t passive, it has to be intentional and thoughtful and it extends to every aspect of the classroom and beyond,” said Thomas. “If we view our experiences through a lens of kindness, we may find opportunities to help and connect that we didn’t see before.”
Thomas enjoys her students and says what separates them from others is that they are real, honest, caring, compassionate and hard-working individuals. She’s been able to get the most out of her class by developing a culture of trust, honesty and kindness, while also providing a safe space where her students can truly be understood and have the courage to freely express themselves on a day-to-day basis.
“This makes it easier for them to discuss any learning struggles they have and allows them to be more comfortable with taking academic risks,” said Thomas. “Plus, it just makes the classroom environment better for everyone when we all are operating out of a place of trust and kindness!”
For her passionate and devoted work at Turner High School, Thomas was nominated to be honored as a Blue KC Sporting Samaritan by Benjamin Sutherlin, an associate administrator at Turner.
“She spends countless hours at the school, in addition to her countless community service initiatives,” said Sutherlin. “She is an amazing teacher and develops great relationships with her students while holding each of them to high standards. Jennifer is an amazing leader, colleague, and most importantly, an amazing person!”
“Jennifer’s nominator emphasizes the positive impact she has on those around her, and how it stretches far beyond the classroom and extends into the local community,” said Blue KC Chief Communications Officer Christa Dubill. “We always strive to recognize teachers who go above and beyond their daily requirements, and Jennifer certainly meets, and exceeds, those expectations. We’re thrilled to recognize her accomplishments and name her a Blue KC Sporting Samaritan.”
With Blue KC Sporting Samaritans being honored monthly at Children’s Mercy Park during Sporting home games, fans are encouraged to nominate teachers and students who are making a positive impact on their schools and communities by using the form online at https://www.sportingkc.com/bluekc.