In Spring of 2017, Tomiko Thompson won the Teacher of the Year award for her work teaching our 7th grade students Individuals and Societies classes. As part of this honor, Thompson was given the opportunity to travel to China this past summer, spending ten days with the Georgia State Confucius Institute alongside eight other educators from Dekalb County.
“It was phenomenal,” she said. “The food was amazing and the people were great!” She laughs. “And the weather was super hot.” As a social studies teacher, Thompson relished the opportunity to visit sites she had formerly only read about, like Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall.
The group of U.S. educators also had the chance to visit a local Chinese middle school, noting some of the differences in school format and teaching styles. “Most education system rankings will show China outperforming the United States,” she remarked. “So I found it a bit surprising during our school visit to Beijing No. 65 Middle School that the classroom sizes were much larger, and the students and teacher did not engage with one another. Instead, the teacher stood at a podium and lectured for forty-five minutes. However,” she notes, “I learned both in China and from our Wesley Chinese instructors that the style of teaching I observed is more of a reflection of the culture.”
Once class was over, they played a little volleyball. Thompson is currently the head coach of Wesley’s girls’ volleyball team. She says, “I can’t help myself but to play every chance I get!”
Upon her return, students and faculty enjoyed a variety of teas and kinds of honey she carried back to the States with her as a token of her travels. “I hope I get the chance to go back one day,” she reflected.
This year marks Thompson’s seventh year working at Wesley International Academy. Currently, she focuses on building Wesley’s capacity to leverage data more effectively for curriculum development as our Instructional Data Specialist.