Former educator pursues spot on WL-WV School Board
Christy Thompson is a teacher at heart. It's a passion that runs through her blood.
"It's who I am; it's what I've always done and it's where my heart is," Thompson said.
This is one of the many reasons why Thompson said she's running for a seat on the West Linn-Wilsonville School Board.
If elected this May, Thompson would focus on five main pillars: smaller class sizes, support for teachers battling disruptive behaviors in the classroom, increased mental health support, parental involvement in curriculum choices, and Career and Technical Education courses.
And with Thompson's background in education and involvement with the district schools, she said she would bring firsthand experience and a fresh perspective to the school board if selected to serve the WL-WV School District.
Thompson, who's had two children graduate from Wilsonville High School and one child currently enrolled in the high school, graduated from Oregon State University in 1990 with a bachelor's degree in biology. After graduation, Thompson did a small stint in pharmaceutical sales but realized teaching was where her heart was — even though she knew this all along.
Thompson grew up one block away from Southern Oregon University where her mother was a professor.
"I grew up watching my mom who was a teacher, and I watched her grade papers late into the night, and I watched her prepare for her classes. I watched her leave our home in the evening to go down and help students who were in the computer lab," said Thompson, adding that she loved seeing her mother's dedication and wanted to follow in her footsteps.
Thompson earned her master's degree in teaching from Lewis & Clark College in 1993 before taking her first job as a biology and physical science teacher at Hillsboro High School.
"I was that teacher who was there late at night, came home and worked longer. All of my students had my home phone number. I told them they could call me until 11 p.m.," Thompson said. "I just dived into my teaching profession. I absolutely loved every second of it but knew that what I did as a teacher wasn't sustainable once I had children. ... I don't say that as critical of moms who still work, I just knew for me personally, the way I threw myself into teaching I wouldn't be happy teaching (after I had children) because I wouldn't be able to do what I wanted to do."
Thompson taught for three and a half years before giving birth to her first daughter.
To keep Thompson's passion for teaching alive, she became an exercise instructor at the Bay Club, formally known as Clubsport of Oregon, in Tualatin.
Once her children started school, Thompson dove right back into education alongside them. She volunteered in the library, assisted teachers in various capacities, and for the past four years, she's been involved with the WHS Booster Club, most recently as president of the club. Thompson was also a substitute teacher at WHS for the past one year and a half before she quit to focus on her school board campaign.
Now Thompson wants to dive even deeper with her involvement in the school district.
If elected, her No. 1 priority is to reduce class sizes.
When Thompson's children were in elementary school they attended private school. This was upon her eldest daughter's request, not because the family was dissatisfied with the WL-WV School District. Through this experience, Thompson learned how different types of schools operated.
"They had no more than 16 kids in a class. It was amazing," she said. "As a school board member it (would) give me more of a broader spectrum of things that work because I've seen three different environments — (private Christian and non-Christian schools and public school)."
While Thompson said she believes the WL-WV School District has already made great strides with the five areas she wants to focus on, there's always room for improvement.
For one, Thompson wants to see more mental health resources.
"As a teacher, I wasn't trained in mental health. We have counselors in schools, but that's not the counselor's job in our public schools. That's not what they do," she said. "There's not money, so how do we partner with things already happening in the community to give more mental health support to some of these students who need it so we free up our district employees to do what our district is supposed to do, and that's teach."
Thompson also would like to see site councils — a group of parents and staff, almost like a small school board — implemented at each school.
"I don't know what exactly has to happen to implement them, but I would encourage the reestablishment of site councils, not because I think the district is doing a bad job of hearing, but I think it's always a good idea to have more communication; to have more collaboration," Thompson said. "If you've got parents and teachers working together at a school on a board, all of a sudden that separation is gone because they're working together. Now the parents at that school who aren't on the board, they know parents to go talk to with their concerns because there's an active board that's already at the school."
While Thompson has been busy making her way through each school and learning how the district operates, she has been overwhelmed by the community support she's receiv-
"I'm so appreciative and grateful and that once more is why I want to serve on this board," she said. "We have an amazing community who will mobilize in a second."
Thompson is running for board Position 4 against Jordan Ferris. Position 2 is the only other board seat open in the May 21 election and is sought after by Gail Greenman and Chelsea King Martin, who currently holds the position.