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Salutatorian's faith-based learning inspired her to teach

By Camille Doty
May 27, 2011 at 12:27 a.m.
Updated May 28, 2011 at 12:28 a.m.

Faith Academy salutatorian, Haley Thomas.

Parents: Michael and Mary Thomas

GPA: 4.0, grading average 98.1

Plans: Attend Texas A&M University in College Station to study early childhood education.

Haley Thomas has been a straight-A student her whole high school career.

And when she becomes a teacher, she will be able to give them to students.

The class salutatorian had nearly perfect academic record at Faith Academy with a 4.0 GPA and 98.1 grade average.

Haley, 17, looks forward to being a positive role model as a teacher.

"I want to be a part of shaping their futures," she said. The youngest daughter of Michael and Mary Thomas said she always liked younger kids, preferring to work with kindergarteners and first-graders.

Her first-grade teacher Donna Potts influenced her to become a teacher.

"She always made kids feel smart, no matter what. She would pray over us. I remember her the most because of her attitude and encouragement," Haley said.

Haley and Potts still keep in touch. Teaching may present its challenges, but the future teacher has already had experience working in the classroom. Last summer she was in a three-week program at Texas A & M University - Corpus Christi. The Governor's Academy for Teaching Excellence program gave her an opportunity to teach math and science, make lesson plans, and go on field trips. Close to 15 elementary school children spent time with Haley making homemade ice cream. It may have been delicious and fun for the students, but the salutatorian used the experiment as a way to teach them about physical and chemical change.

"It was kind of a mess because some bags busted, but it was fun," she said.

Haley said she wants to teach her students as well as learn from them.

"You can learn so much from them while teaching them. And they have a desire to learn," she said.

One of her favorite students, she said, was always eager to learn, have fun, and help her. The program experience gave Haley a dose of teaching and college credit. She will walk on Texas A&M's campus in fall, with 15 semester credits. She had a chance to take college algebra and English courses at Victoria College. Her favorite subject is math because she likes working with numbers.

When the all-star student is not in the books, she spends her time playing volleyball and basketball, and serving on the student council where she is the president.

Haley said her faith-based education gave her a good foundation because she encouraged her to be active in school and the community. She began a recycling program at the school. She raised money for the program and took the initiative to take the goods to the recycling center.

Faith Academy will continue the program next year and Haley said she can return to her future alma mater and to say, " yeah I did that."

Mary Thomas said her daughter never knew her limitations.

"She's always been invincible, in her own mind. She's head-strong and a truth teller."

Thomas said her daughter always wanted to do what her older sisters Courtney and Maegan Thomas were doing.

Haley said she is excited about starting a new chapter in her life, "It's going to be different, but exciting, because it's a new adventure.

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