It is with full hearts that GRACE says goodbye this year to our Lower Campus Principal, Kathie Thompson. For every family that has been a part of GRACE in the last 30+ years, it is likely that somewhere in their GRACE memory is a fond one of Kathie. It is fitting, then to close out this school year, and the last Staff Spotlight, to get to know a little more about Kathie, her faith, her passions, and her hope for the future.
Kathie grew up in Elon, North Carolina. When she lived there it was called Elon College, because of the local college. When Elon College reached university status and changed their name to Elon University, her little hometown became Elon. Kathie has one brother, who is three years younger than she. When he was born, Kathie really thought he was all hers! Her brother is a pastor now and she is so proud of how he loves and serves the Lord as he teaches God’s Word and loves and shepherds people. The two siblings have always been close, but the last few years have been especially precious as both their parents are now deceased. Although Kathie only has one sibling, she has a large number of cousins and we are very close too. They spent lots of time together growing up and many of them are closer to her than many folks are with their siblings.
Not surprisingly, Kathie remembers that she “absolutely loved school” and has many wonderful memories from her days in elementary, middle, and high school. She shares that her love of books definitely comes from the exposure to great books by many of her teachers. Some of her best memories are of special activities that her teachers planned for her classes. She specifically recalls that her fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Lowe, loved folk dancing so they learned the presidents’ names as well as the states and capitals to dance steps. To this day, Kathie admits that she goes through the dance steps in her head when she is trying to remember those facts.
Kathie shares that another highlight from her school days was when a new high school was built and her eighth-grade class inherited the home economics wing of the old high school building. She remembers that their “classroom” was like a mini-house, complete with a kitchen, dining room, and living room. They utilized all the space for projects, experiments, etc. and had lots of freedom /privileges within their classroom, and were allowed to try non-traditional methods of learning. Their teacher, Mrs. Parrish, instilled in Kathie a thirst for learning. She challenged all her students to stretch themselves as scholars and attempt the more difficult assignments and lessons. Kathie concludes, “Much like GRACE teachers, she gave Kathie and her classmates the opportunity to experience learning.”
Kathie’s long career in education bears witness to her passion for children. Kathie has strong memories of her eighth-grade teacher, Wilma Parrish, and the example she set of being an excellent teacher. Kathie has stayed in touch with her and has been able to thank her for her influence. Another mentor for Kathie was Martha Barbour, the principal of the first Christian school she taught in. Martha loved the Lord passionately and she fulfilled her calling to love and lead the children He placed in her care with humble dedication and service. Kathie is grateful to her for the impact Martha has had on her life. Kathie also cites her grandmother as a wonderful spiritual role model. She had a strong faith in the Lord and loved Him deeply. Kathie remembers her as a humble lady who served others in simple, yet powerful ways. Kathie remembers her sitting at the kitchen table reading her worn Bible each morning and fondly recalls seeing her kneel by her bedside at night to pray.
Kathie taught school for several years before her daughter, Krista, was born. About the same time Krista was ready for kindergarten, Kathie was ready to return to teaching. Kathie and her husband, GW, attended a Christian music concert at Mount Olivet Baptist Church and discovered that there was a Christian school there. Mount Olivet Christian School was a small school, but they immediately felt at home when they visited. Kathie interviewed for a teaching position that was open and realized that her philosophy of Christian education that prepared students well academically was aligned with that of the school’s.
As a teacher, Kathie loved watching students get excited about learning and seeing them love reading. She enjoys the same thing as a principal. She enjoys watching her students grow and mature. It’s especially exciting to see how God’s plan for their lives comes about and seeing them as adults with families. She also loves “doing life” with students and their families. Celebrating and laughing through the joys of life and weeping together through loss or sorrow builds a strong community and Kathie enjoys being part of a community.
Given that Kathie has spent her entire career in elementary education, it is not surprising that her ministry focus over the years has also been with children and youth. She has been involved with various youth and children’s ministries within her church and through other ministries, including mission trips to Eleuthera, Bahamas with GRACE and to South Africa and Zimbabwe with an organization called Reaching a Generation. The ministry Kathie is most passionate about is Royal Family Kids, a ministry to children in foster care with a mission to create life-changing moments for children of abuse. Kathie has been involved with RFK for twenty-one years and considers it a privilege to fulfill the meaning of James 1:27 and share God’s love with the children and give them hope in their lives.
When asked about the Bible, Kathie admitted to many favorite and significant Bible verses, but one that has been meaningful to her over the years is Micah 6:8. She likes it because she believes it gives her direction for how I should live. Although she may not always be successful, she tries to do the things as Micah 6:8 directs, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?”
When asked to share something that most people don’t know about her, Kathie replied, “Most people do not know that when I first entered college I planned to get a degree in social work and join the Peace Corps.” She also shared that both her mother’s maiden name and her mother-in law’s maiden name was Marie Thompson. She says this makes for many funny and interesting conversations at family gatherings.
When asked to share some final words of wisdom, Kathie replied, “I want my students to know how much I loved the Lord and I want each of them to have a personal relationship with Him. I also want them to have seen me serve Him with my very best. I want them to know that I love and believe in them. I want them to know that every moment matters!”