Gerald Thompson to be inducted into Educator Hall of Fame on 4/5

posted Apr 2, 2018, 7:09 AM by Granger Meador   [ updated Apr 2, 2018, 8:08 AM ]
Annually the Bartlesville Public Schools Foundation recognizes outstanding former educators in the Bartlesville Public Schools by inducting them into their Educator Hall of Fame

Gerald Thompson, Diane Dixon, and Carol Ann Cone (posthumously) will be inducted as the ninth class in the Hall of Fame on April 5, 2018. Each of these outstanding educators will be profiled in a news post before the event.

Gerald Thompson’s smile is a glorious thing to receive, something everyone remembers. Gerald is renowned for the rapport he nurtures with others, prompting one of his former colleagues to describe him as “an all-inclusive individual.”

That inclusiveness contrasts to how Gerald’s school days began in Bartlesville: at segregation’s Douglass school on the west side. Bartlesville slowly integrated its schools, so Gerald attended Central Junior High and College High School with the likes of Earl Sears. Neither of them suspected that years later Earl would be the principal at Central who brought Gerald back home to teach. That led to a decades-long career in Bartlesville which is being honored by his induction into the ninth class of the Bartlesville Public Schools Foundation’s Educator Hall of Fame, along with two other former teachers in the school district.

Gerald’s interest in teaching was sparked in Leroy Coke’s algebra class at Col-High. Mr. Coke’s way of relating to all of his students and presenting the subject matter left a tremendous impression. After graduating from high school, Gerald earned an associate’s degree at Coffeyville Community College and then earned his bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Central State University.

Gerald taught at five different public schools in Oklahoma City and Tulsa in his first eight years of teaching, encountering tremendous diversity across southeast Oklahoma City and both west and east Tulsa. But he was ready to end his teaching career when his church pastor announced he was starting a school. Gerald tried but was unable to resist the call to teach, spending another five years teaching and coaching at private Christian schools.

When the Christian school he was working at closed, Gerald was finally lured back to his hometown when Earl Sears hired him to teach geography at Central. Given his prior experiences, Gerald thought the position would only last a while, but he would be go on to become a beloved teacher at Central for 27 years. He raised three children as a single parent in Bartlesville, with the support of his mother and other family members in town, support which he would reciprocate in later years.

Gerald played basketball in high school and college, did some coaching at the Boys & Girls Club in his high school days, and had coached as well as taught. This led Carol Green to hire him to assist her with the Lady Bruins basketball team in 1987. He helped coach the girls teams until 2003, and then began helping coach the boys teams in 2006, something he continues to do to this day, years after his retirement from the classroom in 2014.

Gerald was always a teacher first and coach second, so he explains his choice to continue coaching after retiring by joking, “You have to have something to do after The Price is Right is over.” He is also known for still  helping welcome sixth graders to Central each August, still spreading kindness and respect through its halls.

Gerald always made the effort to be a supportive part of students’ lives both while they were in his class and for years afterward, attending various extracurricular activities and life events as well as giving back to the Boys & Girls Club and Westside Community Center which helped him as a youth. He stresses how important it is for teachers to show students that they care, both about their curriculum and the students themselves. He is renowned as a role model, someone that students and colleagues look up to for many more reasons than just his impressive height.

The Bartlesville Public Schools Foundation has been investing in students and staff members within the district since 1985. Over the decades, the non-profit organization has funded more than $2 million in creative projects outside of the traditional state, local and federal sources to support state-of-the-art instruction. The money generated by the Hall of Fame induction ceremonies helps to fund the organization’s programs. Gerald has asked that a $1,000 grant in his name go to Central’s library.

Gerald Thompson