When Allison Thomas graduated from Timber Creek as the salutatorian in 2013, she did not realize she would once again walk the halls as a member of the faculty.
She attended Dallas Baptist University and received her degree in business. Thomas had always been interested in the idea of teaching. Both of her parents have careers in education; her father, Roger Thomas, is a French teacher at Timber Creek and her mother works in administration in Birdville.
“I’ve always wanted to be a teacher,” Thomas said. “[My parents] always told me growing up not to go into education because there’s no money in it.”
After her internship at a non-profit organization and receiving experience in the business field, Thomas realized that she was not truly passionate about business. While looking for jobs in her field, Thomas began substituting at Timber Creek.
“Six months had gone by and I still hadn’t found [any jobs], so my dad suggested that I start subbing,” Thomas said. “Whenever you’re a sub in Keller ISD, you can sub at any of the schools…. I just wanted to work at Timber Creek because this is the school that I know. I already knew I loved working with the teachers here, I knew a lot of the kids here, so I knew that I wanted to come back up here and work here.”
Substituting at Timber Creek began to revive Thomas’ interests in teaching. Shortly after she began substituting, Thomas was informed that the AVID department was in need of tutors. By becoming a tutor, Thomas was able to work closely with students on assignments or problems they had trouble with.
“I loved being able to work with the kids more one on one. With AVID tutoring, [the students] bring in a question about a class that [they] have been struggling with. The vast majority of the time it was math and that was always my favorite subject,” Thomas said. “[I enjoy] being able to help talk these kids through their problems and let them come to the answer on their own. It’s really… gratifying to see them light up when they realize that they know the answer and they can actually do it themselves.”
While students were busy preparing for their new classes for the 2018-19 school year, Thomas was preparing for her first year as a teacher. Thomas teaches on-level Geometry and Math Models. Although her teaching certification allows her to teach any 7th through 12th grade math, Thomas especially enjoyed working with sophomores in Geometry during her time as an AVID tutor. However, teaching Math Models is a new experience for her.
“Going from a student who took all Pre-AP and AP classes to a teacher who has on level classes and Math Models, which is for kids who struggle a little bit more in math, [is] like I’m seeing a completely different side of the school,” Thomas said. “I have 10th, 11th, and 12th graders in [Math Models] so I … get kids from across the board. I get athletes, I get kids in band, choir, I get everyone in there. It’s honestly cool … to see a vast array of kids across the school all put together in this one class where they might never have another class together, but because of their similarity in their math level, they’re in that Math Models class together.”
Thomas attributed her experience with AVID tutoring as the largest factor that brought her back around to teaching. However, her interests in education can be traced to her time as a Timber Creek student. Many of the teachers she had during high school showed Thomas how powerful educators could be. Carol Hopson was Thomas’ sophomore English teacher and senior year AP Literature teacher, but also her inspiration to pursue teaching.
“She was absolutely one of my inspirations to start teaching because [of] the way that she interacted with kids. You could tell that she cared about you, but also she was really hard on you if you were slacking off and she knew that you could be better than what you were doing. She would always challenge you to be the best that you were,” Thomas recollected. “Seeing the way she interacted with kids, the way she was treated at the school, and how she interacted with her coworkers … definitely inspired me to go into teaching.”
Former choir director Amy Fambrough was also one of Thomas’ role models in education. Thomas was in choir all four years of high school and came to see choir as a second family.
“I want to be the kind of teacher that [Fambrough] was for me where if a student has a problem, they feel like they can come to that teacher if they don’t have another adult they can trust,” Thomas said. “I had friends in high school that did not have … a good family life or a good home life, so their teachers were those good adult role models for them. Even though I did have a good home life, [Fambrough] was just an additional good role model for me to look up to, so she inspired me to do the same for my kids.”
Although the aforementioned educators are no longer at Timber Creek, Thomas still gets to see other teachers that helped pave her career path. Furthermore, she now gets to work alongside teachers who once had her in their classes.
“Mr. Ryan, the head of the math department, … was my Pre-AP Algebra II teacher and now he’s sort of my boss,” Thomas laughed. “It’s a fun way that our relationship has changed from teacher to student and now we’re coworkers.”
Additionally, Thomas now works at the same school that her father teaches at and her younger sister attends. Roger Thomas is a French teacher and Anna Thomas attends Timber Creek as a senior.
“It’s not as interesting or funny as you would expect.… [My father and I] don’t ever run into each other at school because he teaches French and I teach math in a different hall,” Thomas said. “I do like being here with Anna, though, because I feel like I can check up on her more and be overly involved in her life, which I’m sure she does not appreciate.”
Thomas brings her own interests out into her classroom by donning a Harry Potter theme throughout the entire room. Above her whiteboard, a J.K. Rowling quote painted by senior Karson Gopffarth reads: “It is our choices that show who we truly are far more than our abilities.” Being raised on a series that promotes the importance of education, friendship, and love, Thomas thought it was important to bring the same culture into her classroom.
“You can be talented at everything [or] you can not have any particular talents in the classroom, but it’s really about what choices you make to do with your abilities that defines who you are as a person,” Thomas said. “I felt like that was what I wanted to show off as a classroom and who I am as a teacher.”
Although only about three weeks into her first year of teaching, Thomas has already noticed the large impact her students have had on her as an educator, and vice versa. Her first few weeks have gone smoother than she had initially expected, and she is excited for what the rest of the school year has in store.
“Hearing other teachers come up to me and say that they had a kid tell them how much they like my class or how much they already like me… [is] just crazy for me to think about,” Thomas said. “I see how much of an impact I actually have on these kids. I really have to think about everything that I say to them.”