Sandy Thompson sat on the floor with her kindergartners while they cut out lime green hexagons to make a frog Tuesday afternoon.
Thompson, who is in her 70s, has been teaching kindergarten at Lewis Cass Elementary School for the past 50 years and shows no sign of slowing down.
“I always wanted to be a teacher,” said Thompson. She said it was because of her father, who was the on the board of trustees and, at the time, the trustees took care of the school. So she grew up around teachers.
She wanted to be a third grade teacher up until her junior year at Indiana University in Bloomington, when she was placed into a kindergarten student teaching position. “After that,” she continued, “I said, ‘I want kindergarten,’ so I managed to get my credits in for my endorsement — my 15 hours extra — and I’ve been in kindergarten ever since.”
Thompson grew up in Galveston and graduated from Lewis Cass High School in 1965.
She has taught at least two generations of students since she began teaching at Lewis Cass. She graduated with one of her kindergartner’s grandmothers, taught her son and is now teaching her grandson. She also taught another one of her student’s mothers.
Not only has she taught generations of students, she also works with some of her former students. Her current instructional assistant, Nell Green, was one of her kindergartners and Jennifer Hopper, the kindergarten teacher who teaches in the adjoining room, is also one of her former students.
School started nearly a month ago, and so far the students have been working on their colors, shapes and reading. They’ve made a rectangle snail, a triangle puppy and a square bird. They also had color-themed days during the first two weeks of school where, for instance, if the color was red, the students would wear red, have a story about something red, eat a snack that was red and then at the end of the two weeks they created a color book and read the book to the class while pointing at the letters.
“They’re expected to learn a whole lot more than they learned when I first started teaching,” said Thompson.
The students are expected to know 100 sight words by the end of the year, count to 100, write to 100, count by tens to 100 and read at a “Level D” reading level. They also will move on from two-dimensional shapes to three-dimensional shapes in the spring semester.
Plans on doing it as long as it’s fun and as long as she can do it.
This is her 51st year teaching and she says she plans on doing it as long as it is fun and as long as she is able-bodied.
She received a plaque at the end of her 50th year.
“I think I’m the first one to get the 50,” she said, continuing with a story. “In fact, Mr. Krug, our band teacher, he had 47 years, and one day he said, ‘Sandy you’re going to help me get rid of Mr. Bunson,’ and I said, ‘and why are we getting rid of Mr. Bunson?’ and he said, ‘Because I want to be top man on the seniority list and he’s ahead of me,’ and I said, ‘Well, you know what, we can get rid of Mr. Bunson, but you’re still not going to be top man on that,’ and he said, ‘Why not?’ and I said, ‘Because I know I’m up there above you,’ and he said, ‘Well, when are you going to retire?’ and I said, ‘The day after you do.’”