This week saw Jennie Thompson start her 34th consecutive school year in Fairfield’s district.
But Thompson’s record of longevity extends beyond that, as the Fairfield native was also a graduate of Fairfield Schools.
“And my children graduated from Fairfield,” said Thompson as she took a quick break from her current position as coordinator of elementary curriculum and instruction as she meets with the new teachers starting for the first time in the Butler County district.
Classes for the district’s 10,000 students started this week.
Thompson, who is the longest tenured school employee in the district, has seen many of the sweeping changes to public education first hand since she started teaching first grade in the 1985-86 school year.
“Teaching has changed a lot over the years but the one thing that has remained constant is that kids need to know that we care about them,” said Thompson.
“When I started teaching back in 1985-1986 there was not a computer in the classroom. I was one of the very first teachers to have computers added to their classroom. We have come a long way.”
“We are not past the age of computers and we have the iPads and Smart Boards and the iPhones. But they are just tools. We are still going to be teaching the curriculum, there are just now different ways to get to it.”
Thompson’s abilities over the decades to incorporate learning technology and coach improved learning techniques has long made her a valuable member of the Fairfield school district leadership team, said Fairfield Spokeswoman Gina Gentry-Fletcher.
“Jennie has been such an asset to our students, parents and the staff she works with,” said Gentry-Fletcher.
“She is a quiet leader who works tirelessly to ensure that our youngest learners and the staff who work with them are equipped with the tools necessary for successful outcomes in the classroom and the community. We are lucky to have her dedication and wisdom,” she said.
Despite the many changes in American public schools, the basic natures of youngsters have remained the same, said Thompson.
“They still want to know that you care about them. They still ultimately want to try to please you – especially at the younger ages – and if you can build that relationship with them – even at the older ages – it’s still there,” she said.
She has no plans to retire.
“I’m just 55, I’m not old enough to retire yet,” she said with a chuckle.
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