Rick Thomas said the education process is a triangle made up of the teacher, student and guardians working together for the students’ success. As a health and physical education teacher at Bridge Street Middle School in Ohio County, he said teaching doesn’t feel like a job – it just feels like he gets paid to do something he truly loves.
“I enjoy building relationships with my students and their parents. I really enjoy seeing my students grow and mature during their three years at Bridge Street Middle. I also get to see their successes, and I get to be there when they need some help. I enjoy the relationships with our parents as we work together to help make each child successful.”
A teacher for almost 40 years and a wrestling/football coach for a majority of that time, Thomas began his teaching career at Brink Junior High in Moore, Oklahoma in 1981. He taught at Brink for 17 years. He moved his family to Wheeling, West Virginia in March 1998 where he substituted and coached wrestling and football in Ohio County from 1998 to 2003. It was in 2003 that he was hired to teach at Bridge Street Middle after what seemed like a full circle journey.
“I was the first one in our family to attend college. After graduating in the first-ever class of Wheeling Park High School, I left in August 1977 to attend Oklahoma Christian College. At freshman orientation, I had no clue what I wanted to major in. My counselor advised me to take all my general education classes. During my freshman year, I looked at all the different major options. I asked myself what I might like to do,” Thomas said. “I really liked wrestling, so I decided to be a wrestling coach. However, there is not a wrestling coach major. To become a wrestling coach, I needed to get a teaching degree. Growing up during my school years in Ohio County, I really enjoyed my physical education and history classes. I decided to major in health and physical education with a minor in history.”
Thomas has stayed very busy since his decision to pursue a career in education. Not only is he the health/physical education teacher for all Bridge Street Middle students, but he also serves as the athletic director, a wellness coach and director of Ohio County Archery. He attributes his progress as an educator to those who have mentored him along the way.
“I have been blessed with many outstanding administrators that have helped me to grow into the teacher that I have become. I love that I teach a subject that during each school year I have the privilege to teach every student in our school,” Thomas said. “In 2011, I participated in the WV Health & PE Teacher Academy. I feel that this academy helped to make me a better teacher. The mentors at this academy were very passionate about the fact that WV Health and Physical Education teachers need to be reaching every student. The academy taught me how to design my lessons to have every student engaged and involved in the lesson. I constantly have former students tell me that they really enjoyed my classes. They say I made it fun to come to class. Knowing that I have had a positive impact on my students makes me smile.”