Shaping dreams

Published 7:09 pm Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Not many of us can claim to have known from the very beginning what we’d do with our lives. Most of us can recall wanting one day — once we were “grown up” — to become firefighters or veterinarians or astronauts or teachers. But for most folks, those early dreams were left behind at some point, supplanted by new ones that promised more money, fewer years of college, an easier path to graduation or some other reason to turn from our young dreams.

There are some people, though, who know right off the bat what they want to do in life, and then they pursue that goal with dogged determination, never veering from the course they set as youngsters.

Keysha Thomas, Suffolk’s 2012 Teacher of the Year, was one of those rare people. As a child, she would come home from school, line her dolls up before her and then proceed to teach them. As she progressed through elementary school, a string of excellent teachers helped inspire her to one day become a teacher herself.

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Once she became an adult, working as a human resources secretary in the Suffolk Public Schools central office while she attended night school at Norfolk State University, Thomas had the opportunity to meet more teachers — wonderful and committed people who helped seal the desire that had never diminished through the intervening years.

That lifelong dream finally became a reality 15 years ago, when she began teaching kindergarten at Northern Shores Elementary School. And Thomas clearly learned well from all those who encouraged her dream.

In a written recommendation on Thomas’ behalf for her Suffolk Teacher of the Year Award, Stuart Littlejohn, who had two sons whose formal education started in Thomas’ classroom, said this about her: “Although my wife and I would love to take full credit for their success, the reality is that Ms. Thomas planted and watered the seeds of creativity, confidence and competence in these young men during their first year of formal education. She is the gold standard against which they have measured all their subsequent teachers and, for the record, none have supplanted her.”

Congratulations, Keysha Thomas, 2012 Suffolk Teacher of the Year. Thanks for setting such high standards for your students and your colleagues. And thanks for shaping the dreams of a generation of youngsters.