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WCSD Recognizes Womens History month with Principal Teresa Thompson

WCSD Recognizes Womens History month with Principal Teresa Thompson

March is Women’s History Month. This month is dedicated to recognizing and celebrating all of the incredible women in American history who have made contributions to our society in a variety of fields. This month, the Washingtonville Central School District is recognizing three principals within the WCSD community whose contributions to our community are valued and appreciated. 

Teresa Thompson, principal of Washingtonville Middle School, is hoping to continue to serve as a role model and encourage her students to do their best.

“I’m a history teacher so I know there’s a history but oftentimes it’s not all that inclusive of groups in our country who have been marginalized,” said Ms.Thompson. “We have an opportunity to really showcase and highlight for all our kids, not just our girls but what women are capable of.”

Prior to working in education, Ms. Thompson wanted to be a police officer. She grew up in Long Island, which is where she took the test to join the police force. After taking the test, she decided to go to college where she would study criminal justice while she waited for her acceptance. 

“I got interested in history,” she explained. “So I shifted gears and said, ‘You know what, maybe history, and what am I going to do with history? I’m going to teach, let's do that.’”

After a few months, she heard back from the police academy, and she had to decide whether that would be the career she’d pursue or if she would teach. Ultimately, she decided to pursue a teaching degree because of her love for teaching and history. 

A year after graduating from SUNY New Paltz, she started substitute teaching at Washingtonville High School. Then she began to teach full-time at WHS as a history teacher, where she taught for seven years. This will be her 27th year working with the district.

Ms. Thompson credits participation in sports over the years for giving her confidence.

She explained that playing sports gave her a lot of confidence, even though the opportunities for girls in sports were limited. 

“I didn’t care. I was going to play on the boy's baseball team, and you know, I didn’t care if there weren’t any girls on the hockey team. So, it was just a passion because I enjoy playing so much. So, the thought of being a woman in a police department didn’t even enter my mind. It was just so ingrained in me that whatever I set my mind to do, I’m going to do.”

As someone who is a leader, Ms. Thompson always encourages her students to find what makes them happy. 

“In middle school, I find that girls are lacking in self-confidence. And that is what’s part of the age. I think social media also, kind of does damage self-esteem. So you find moments where they can be successful. You allow them to do something that they are passionate about. Anything that can build their self-confidence and teach them leadership skills, I fully support.”

While serving as a leader, there have also been a lot of people in Ms. Thompson’s life who have given her the support she now offers to others.

“My coaches through high school and college. They gave me that support and confidence during those times when I really needed it. And then, in education, at a time where you weren’t seeing a lot of women in positions in the central office, or you know assistant superintendent or superintendent roles.”

“When I first started (in Washingtonville), Robbie Greene was the athletic director and then she was the assistant and then the superintendent. And I always admired her work ethic, the way she thought about things, the way she took on challenges and the way she problem-solved,” Ms. Thompson explained. 

“She just had a way and I think that’s the leadership style where she just built up good morale. I always wanted to be that kind of leader.”

As a middle school principal, Ms. Thompson loves all of her students.

“I get such a kick out of them. I love them in this stage, trying to figure things out. The growth I see in kids from sixth grade to eighth grade is amazing to me. To me, that’s probably the most rewarding part of being in a place so long. A lot of the kids come back and they pay it forward. They volunteer their time and help out and I get to see how grown up they’ve become.”

As middle school is a pivotal point in adolescence, Ms. Thompson offers advice to young ladies who are still growing up and learning who they are. 

“I think for girls, the most important thing that they have is to just believe in themselves because you’re going to be faced with a world of people who tell you, you can or you can’t. It’s perseverance. It’s the passion and the drive that you have. You can’t let anybody deter you, from your dream, and what it is you want to do. You can’t let anybody put an obstacle in your life that’s going to defeat you. And it’s that struggle that’s going to make you stronger.”