OCS math teacher Nancy Thompson was celebrated by her family and peers at a special luncheon on June 5 as she retires from full time teaching. Described by her department as a consummate professional who always modeled grace and love to students, Thompson caps an impressive career that includes 40 years of teaching (34 full time and six part time), the last 16 at Oaks Christian School.
She first came to Oaks Christian in 2001 with a love for high school students and an enthusiasm for teaching mathematics that did not wane, even in her final week of instruction. Known as a practical joker, OCS staff shared memories of her "salty" humor, her vibrant spirt and her nurturing and caretaking side.
Reflecting on her time at Oaks Christian, Thompson shared the following:
"In my 40 years of teaching, I am continually humbled to be working with such intelligent, creative, experienced, and caring Christian middle school and high school mathematics teachers. I would like to thank everyone in the Oaks community who has been a part of her life these past 16 years— the board of directors, the supportive administration, the wonderful faculty and staff, the involved parents, the tech guys, the attendance gals, and many, many more whom have made Oaks Christian School great."
Her favorite OCS memory is the first graduation ceremony in 2003 which she described as very emotional. That first graduating class of students was small enough that the ceremony was held in the Disciples Chapel and everyone knew each other very well. It was the pinnacle of many years of planning, hard work, and dedication, and she thanks Jeff Woodcock, Tim Fenderson, Paul Oberhaus, Jan Hethcock, Tim Richardson, and of course David Price and Dallas Price-Van Breda, for their early vision of Christian education.
Thompson is also appreciative of Bart Tarman, the faculty and staff's spiritual mentor in those early years. Each year at the opening school retreat, Tarman reminded the faculty and staff to continually fall in love with Jesus. All were reminded, "To keep the main thing (Jesus), the main thing."
Her first teaching job in California was at Oak Park High School. She worked there when the Oak Park district was brand new, and when the classes were meeting in bungalows. Thompson was the founding math department chairperson at Oak Park, and in a five-year span, she planned and implemented the math curriculum for the new school, grades 7-12.
In addition to math, Thompson also taught microcomputers for educators at California Lutheran University in the early 1980's. She also taught mathematics for educators at Pepperdine University, but it was her love for high school students that led her to accept the position at Oaks Christian.
Thompson's first memory of Oaks Christian was her interview with Head of School Jeff Woodcock and his prayer before the interview. While her education and experience were important, Woodcock's interest in her faith statement and teaching philosophy based on her Christian worldview left an impression on her.
Although she will stay in touch with Oaks Christian as a substitute, she will greatly miss the students and her colleagues in the math department.
Thompson has a bachelor of science degree in mathematics, and a master's degree in mathematics education. She is married to Dr. Don Thompson, who is a mathematics/Great Books professor at Pepperdine. They have two sons, one of whom is married. Thompson feels fortunate that her children live in Southern California and her new schedule will allow more time for family, volunteer work, personal interests, and whatever else God has in store for her.