Despite Sally Thompson’s many accomplishments as an educator and administrator, she believes “The greatest satisfaction is having a student remember what you taught them.” One student recalled a lesson she teaches all her students: “Be all you can be, and don’t stop until you reach your goal.” Today, a former student is employed at NASA. Another earned a Ph.D. in physics from The New York Institute of Technology. Some of her other students have gone on to become principals and attorneys. “To think that I might have played a small part in their achievements,” she says, “that is what it’s all about.”
In the districts she has served, Thompson has implemented several programs which are still used today. Hempstead, New York’s first Talented and Academically Gifted Program at the elementary level was her concept. With the New York State Education Department, she wrote and implemented the proposal for the first elementary Alternative School Program for suspended elementary school students.
However, the basis of her NSU dissertation became her most significant contribution to education. Thompson (Ed.D. ’09) noticed her district had a tendency to lose teachers, often in the first year. She developed and administrated the New Teacher Mentoring Program, which mandates that New York State districts implement mentoring for teachers in their 1st and 2nd year of teaching. New York State established the New Teacher Mentoring Regulation, stating all districts must follow the guidelines set forth in her dissertation. She was also chairperson of the subcommittee that would make new teacher mentoring mandatory for newly certified teachers in New York State.
Thompson moved up in the Hempstead school district, serving as the assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction and director of research planning and evaluation. She was then appointed by the Commissioner of the New York State Education Department to serve on the Professional Practices and Standards Board for Teaching. “No professional educator from the Hempstead Public Schools had ever been asked to set policy for teachers in the State of New York,” she says. Though Thompson would retire from the school district, her work was far from over.
“The New York State Education Department asked me to do consulting work. I now help to set professional standards and practices for licensing principals and school business officials.” For her work on the licensing exam, she travels back and forth to Albany. Some of her other consulting duties include writing curriculum for national collegiate charter schools in Washington, DC, and various colleges around the tri-state area.
An enthusiastic volunteer with the NSU Alumni Association’s regional chapter in New York, Thompson also encouraged her son to seek his master’s in criminal justice at NSU. She comments, “I am in position now where I do what I want, and what I am good at. I go to Albany because I like going where it keeps my hand in everything, and I am able to be right where it’s happening.” Eventually, she envisions a career teaching at a college or university, or opening a charter school of her own. “I have a lot to impart to new people in my chosen profession and to young people starting out.”
Thompson advises current students to “Pursue your dreams. Find something that is going to translate itself into what you live, breathe and dream about as your future goals. Keep abreast of issues in your area. Keep looking around until you find a place that is a good match for you and something that you can make a viable contribution to for future generations.”