Mrs. Debra Thomas, 2016 Fellow
Rich East High School | Park Forest, IL | Special Education: Math, Science, Consumer Economics
Mrs. Debra Thomas is an exceptional advocate for her special education students, and works diligently to make sure that social and education silos do not exist for them. Specifically, she integrates students in general population classes, as well as after school clubs like chess, pom poms, art and computer technology (which she leads). Thomas makes it very clear to her students that she has great expectations for them to be productive members of society upon graduation. She rewards students for asking questions, challenging an idea or sharing insights during class. Thomas’ classes are described as “living learning labs,” because she creates a safe and inviting environment where students experience an adventure on their journey to self discovery and subject analysis. As an example of the time and money she invests in her students, every year Thomas organizes a spring dance for students and their families that recognizes seniors who have completed their academic study, and those who have aged out of the young adult program.
The Transformative Power of Teaching by Debra Thomas
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