Rachel Thompson wins VB Teacher of the Year


(photo taken by Kendall Peterson)

Kendall Peterson

By Kendall Peterson

Although Spanish teacher Rachel Thompson was awarded a car for  Virginia Beach Teacher of the Year, she feels most rewarded by the amount “…of support throughout my career.”

“I feel like I’m getting away with something,” said Thompson, when “I come to a place full of joy and my students want to hear what we’re studying.”

When Thompson first started her teaching career at PA, she came in mid-year, untrained, with a degree in Linguistics and Literature. However, because she “really learned how to improvise and think on my feet, and make plenty of mistakes,” said Thompson, she found it to be a “genuine learning experience.”

Junior Tanner Drew said, “She really challenges us to consider different perspectives by introducing new ideas or things we didn’t think about before.”

Along with teaching, Thompson spends her time writing, translating, cooking, reading, and being a mom. Currently, she is working on a translation for one of her former professors, who lives in Madrid. She also has published works in literary journals, is hoping on completing a novel, and has received her Master of Fine Arts.

“You can’t always do a perfect job at everything at the same time,” said Thompson, who was named Princess Anne Teacher of the Year earlier this year. To maintain a healthy balance, Thompson said it is important to be able “to do things that bring us joy.”

Junior Amina Ghassab said, “She’s very passionate about she teaches, which goes a long way in impacting students.”

Junior Francisco Perez said, “She actually cares about the mental health and well-being of her students, which makes me feel way more comfortable in her classroom.”

Another part of her profession that motivates her is “the support of my colleagues.” When she first began at PA, she “had a wonderful mentor [Claudia Cosimano] who really showed me how to be a teacher.”

“Every time that there’s a lesson that goes really well,” said Thompson, she is reminded that this is what she was meant to do.

“By making her lessons more relatable and interesting, she is able to engage each of us and make us eager to know more,” said Drew.

When looking at the future, she wants to “enjoy the minutes.”

Thompson said, “Right now, I love the little magic that happens in the classroom.”