Boushall Middle teacher is Region 1 Teacher of the Year

Holly Rodriguez | 9/1/2022, 6 p.m.
When Henrico County native Kiara Thompson began her college career, teaching was not what she had in mind.
Ms. Thompson

When Henrico County native Kiara Thompson began her college career, teaching was not what she had in mind.

But on Tuesday, the Thomas C. Boushall Middle School science teacher was thankful she chose the path of education. Ms. Thompson was surprised with the announcement that she was named the Region 1 Teacher of the Year.

“I know a lot of times we talk about how students are thankful for teachers,” she said at a press conference at the school. “But I am so thankful for my students — they have taught me so much over the years and they continue to teach me things every day.”

After graduating from Varina High School, Ms. Thompson’s love of science led her to earn a bachelor’s degree in biology from Old Dominion University. Volunteering with students while pursuing a master’s in public administration from ODU awakened her passion for teaching.

“Interacting with students as a volunteer, when I got to see them reach that ‘Aha!’ moment as a tutor because of what I’d taught them was super important to me,” she said. “I could see the difference I was making as a tutor.”

After receiving a certificate in educational leadership from Virginia Commonwealth University, she landed her role at Boushall Middle School.

She said she wanted to teach in Richmond because she hadn’t had a lot of Black teachers in her K-12 learning experience. “I wanted my students to see someone who looks like them, who can relate to them, who can understand what they may be going through,” Ms. Thompson said.

As a student, her very best teachers were the ones who were able to break down content into understandable doses, she said, in a fun and engaging atmosphere. “When I walked into those teachers’ classrooms, I felt important, like they heard me, and I knew they wanted me to succeed.”

Ms. Thompson said she wants to provide the same encouraging environment for her students, guiding them toward success in science, but also in life. She said she attempts to instill in them that education is power and is important. And like the best teachers she had as a middle and high school student, she works to let them know they are important and deserving of whatever they want in the world.

“When you step into my classroom, you are loved, you are appreciated and you matter,” she said. “I give them praise and let me know how important they are and that they can accomplish anything.”

For Ms. Thompson, teaching is more than a career — it is a calling.

“What I love most about teaching and the reason I became a teacher is the impact I am able to have on my students,” she said standing at the podium during the announcement Tuesday morning. “If you were ever in my class, you will always be in my class.”

The Virginia Department of Education selected eight teachers, including Ms. Thompson, from across the state to be in the final running for the state’s Teacher of the Year distinction. VDOE will select the state’s Teacher of the Year, who will compete with teachers throughout the country to be named Teacher of the Year for the United States.

The other seven teachers are:

• Jason D. Bartholomew, business information and technology teacher at Nansemond River High, Region 2 (Suffolk)

• Fabiana B. Parker, English as a second language teacher, at Thornburg Middle, Region 3 (Spotsylvania County)

• Jordan M. Markwood, music teacher at Rock Ridge High, Region 4 (Loudoun County)

• Lori C. Peltonen, library and media specialist at Staunton High, Region 5 (Staunton)

• Angela D. Myers, librarian at Red Mountain Middle, Region 6 (Botetourt County)

• Dawn Poe, kindergarten teacher at Fairview Elementary, Region 7 (Grayson County)

• Megan G. Graves, special education teacher at Appomattox High, Region 8 (Appomattox County)