Rachel Thompson, a Spanish teacher at Princess Anne High School (PAHS), is the Virginia Department of Education's 2020 Region 2 Teacher of the Year.
Region 2 includes all of Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore. Superintendent Aaron Spence made the announcement recently at PAHS.
Thompson has been teaching for 15 years, all with VBCPS, and was named the 2020 VBCPS Citywide Teacher of the Year, Distinguished Educator of the Year for PAHS in 2009, 2010 and 2018 and Rookie Foreign Language Teacher of the Year in 2006.
"Mrs. Thompson is the embodiment of our division's relentless mission to provide our students with the best learning experiences possible," said Spence. "She is one of the most enthusiastic, caring and inclusive teachers I know, and her love for teaching and for children is infectious. Moreover, she's an expert in her field, crafting and shaping the classroom experience like an artist and in a way that others can clearly learn from. We're incredibly proud that she'll continue to represent the best of our amazing teachers both from Virginia Beach and all across the Hampton Roads region."
After graduating from Saint Louis University in Madrid, Spain with a bachelor's in Spanish Philology and English Literature, Thompson returned to the United States without knowing what her future held; until a former teacher asked her to substitute teach.
"I was hooked," Thompson wrote in her VBCPS Citywide Teacher of the Year application. "I learned to teach and by the end of the year, those children were not just students, they were my students. My students are mine for life. I'm their reference for their first jobs. I attend their weddings and meet their babies. They're the best part of the job."
Rachel Thompson has been teaching for 15 years, all with VBCPS, and was named the 2020 VBCPS Citywide Teacher of the Year, Distinguished Educator of the Year for PAHS in 2009, 2010 and 2018 and Rookie Foreign Language Teacher of the Year in 2006.
Thompson has since earned her master's degree in writing with a focus in translation from Vermont College of Fine Arts and plans to pursue a second master's degree in Spanish language and culture at the Universidad de Granada in Spain.
In addition to her hours in the classroom, Thompson devotes her time to support the school's Model U.N. team and Operation Smile club, sponsors the PAHS Gay-Straight Alliance, serves as co-chair of the School Planning Council and helps as an interpreter for Spanish-speaking parents during division events.
"Mrs. Thompson's passion for teaching is evident by her relentless dedication to helping her students with course content as well as all aspects of their lives," said PAHS Principal Danny Little. "She truly stands out for the selfless sacrifices she makes to provide our students countless opportunities to grow into well-rounded adults."
Thompson is one of eight educators now competing for the state title of Teacher of the Year. They were selected from among candidates nominated by school divisions in each of Virginia's superintendents' regions. The candidates submitted portfolios highlighting their accomplishments, educational philosophies and community activities.
Later this month, a panel of teachers and leaders in the education and business communities will interview each of the nominees to select the 2020 Virginia Teacher of the Year, who will be awarded during an October ceremony in Richmond.