33 years of enjoyment

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Bill Thompson's years at Alta High School "added" up quickly. He will leave at the end of the year after teaching math for 33 years.

As part of his career, he served as a junior high basketball and football coach for 23 years.

He teaches algebra, trigonometry and general math classes for seven periods a day.

He admits he will miss the kids and the great colleagues he has worked with over the years.

"I've enjoyed it. Everyone's been good to me all 33 years."

"I was one of those people who was born with the desire to teach and coach," he said, and being raised by two educators helped confirm that desire.

Thompson also looked up to several of his own teachers at Sac City High School.

He received his education at Iowa State University, therefore, Hawkeye fans are given a bad time in his classroom.

When he graduated from college in the spring of '73, he applied for two jobs, hoping to be a new teacher that fall at one of them.

He was immediately impressed with Alta High School and when he was offered the position, he jumped at the opportunity.

He has had offers over the years to move on but nothing has compared to the school he has grown to care so much about. (Maybe it's a "Cyclone" connection!)

He truly has enjoyed the small school setting.

"I have been able to share personal relationships with the students. That is better to help them. At a small school you teach a lot of things and I like that. It's great to be 'the whole program' that way I know what should get passed on and it helps with the continuity."

He added, "I've enjoyed watching them grow in subject matter and mature socially."

Several of the students in his classroom today are second generation. That doesn't make him feel old, he said, but it does provide some good leverage.

"That's fun and it works well if I need an extra lever."

He said he normally doesn't share "old" stories with his students because he doesn't want to break that trust with the parents.

When past students are home for special community or school events, some make a point of coming up to him to share what's new in their lives.

That bond between teachers and students is there forever. He always makes time to listen.

Thompson's voice will be missed. For many, many years, it was he that announced at Homecoming coronation and during the grand march at prom.

He hopes that each student will remember this about him: "That I cared about what they did academically and that I cared about them as individuals. I've always tried to teach them values so they can be successful in life."

His students made a few comments about him.

"He's a great teacher and we're going to miss him a lot. He treats everyone with respect," shared Adam Holton.

Katie Connolly said he has always been willing to help and Kelsey Mangold echoed that thought by saying, "He really cares about the students."

Another student said he feels "privileged" to have had Mr. Thompson as a teacher his last year.

Superintendent Fred Maharry had this to say about the long-time teacher:

"Bill is very dedicated to his students and he has a good sense of humor. He is very personable and goes a great job of explaining math problems to students, I really hate to see him leave."

Thompson and his wife Patrice have six kids - Aaron Thompson and Kyle Burris, 23; Joe Burris, 25; Sara Smith, 26; Nathan Burris, 28; and Dan Thompson, 29.

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