Dr. Kent Thompson
02/01/2008 - Kent Thompson, Ed.D., principal of Manor Heights Elementary, loves his job, loves his school, and loves the kids. You can tell. A gentle smile always seems to grace his lips and, when he speaks to a child, it's with a kind, calm respect.
"We like to catch the kids being nice," Kent tells me. When they do, the kids are rewarded in a number of ways including being recognized at a quarterly "Celebrate Success" assembly, having their names entered in a prize drawing, and having a "Be Nice" poster made of them which is hung in the school's hall.
|Dr. Kent Thompson (click for larger version)|
Manor Heights' "Be Nice" program is well defined so that students can understand what is expected of them. "Be Nice" stands for:
Engaged in learning
Neat and organized
Courteous and considerate
The "Celebrate Success" assemblies also recognize students' achievements in "most improved,"
"outstanding work ethic," as well as other categories. One feature of the assemblies that students and teachers really enjoy is the appearance of "Dude," a furry, stuffed (with a human being) jaguar, the school's mascot.
Kent describes the rewards he finds as an educator. "The kids are the rewards," he tells me. "To see their smiles, hear their laughter, to compliment them on a job well done."
"And I have a talented staff," Kent says. "They are professional and hardworking. They make my job as principal easier."
Kent's goals for Manor Heights are to "do our best to improve reading, writing, and math skills. To help students improve their study habits. To help them be the best citizens they can be. To have pride in what they are doing. That's why we're in education."
A Nebraska native, Kent began his college career at Chadron as a speech/theatre major. He went on a children's theatre tour to a variety of towns and schools and "fell in love with elementary-age kids." When he returned to Chadron he expanded his major to include elementary education.
In his rare free time, he and his wife Cyndy like to travel around Wyoming and surrounding states to enjoy the scenic beauty. He also enjoys judging speech tournaments and acting in local theatre productions at Stage III and Casper College. His acting career here in Casper includes roles in Harvey, Man of La Mancha, and Arsenic and Old Lace.
The day that I visit Manor Heights Elementary, the gym is housing a Science Fair. Kent and I stroll around the gym, peering at the many exhibits and listening to the students describe their project to the volunteer judges. One judge from Manor Heights' business partner, Hilltop National Bank, Carrie Reese, listens carefully to a student's explanation and asks questions, which the student answers quite intelligently. As Kent listens, he wears a gentle smile tinged with respect and pride.