The Student News Site of Willis High School

The Voice of the Wildkats

The Student News Site of Willis High School

The Voice of the Wildkats

The Student News Site of Willis High School

The Voice of the Wildkats

English teacher named top in school

Momma Thomas famous for her mom vibes, ability to connect to others
photo or infographic by Isabella Melin
DEDICATED. During class English teacher Bridgett Thomas is teaching her students about poems. Thomas has been teaching for 17 year’s.

A teacher. A mother. A grandmother. A leader. An inspiration. These keywords and her positive mindset describe the 2024 Teacher of the Year.

English teacher Bridget Thomas has been teaching for 17 years, and her path to teaching high school English is not the traditional one.  She started her career teaching much smaller students at several elementaries throughout Texas.

“Mrs. Thomas is an awesome teacher and has been from the start,” wrestling coach and husband Bryan Thomas said.  “She started teaching 1st grade in Wolfforth, Texas,  and when we came to Willis, she worked at Parmley Elementary.”

It takes more than great lesson plans to become teacher of the year.  Thomas has been working at the high school since 2007, and she is known for her ability to connect with others.

“I think the biggest key to being a good teacher is being able to relate to students,” Thomas said. “I was flattered recently when a student from a testing room said to her English teacher that she thought I was pretty strict, but I gave off mom vibes. I would like to think I’m helping kids the same way a parent would. They realize I care that much about what they are doing, but in the end they realize that I will always hope and wish the best for them, much like a parent might.” 

Thomas has had the opportunity to work with the people that she loves at the high school including her husband and recently her son.

“My mother has been teaching since I was in elementary school, and the biggest growth that I have seen is her ability to create relationships with her students and how much she cares about every single student she has,” history teacher Harless Thomas said. “When I was in high school in Lubbock my team mates would call her ‘Mama Thomas’ because of how much of an impact she made in our wrestling program, now she is coaching and continues to pour herself into not only her students but her athletes as well.”

Thomas has always had an impact on her students and their reading skills in the school, and it takes a lot to be able to achieve all of that.

“One thing I learned from Mrs. Thomas is that you are capable of doing anything you want to do,” sophomore Gladys Vargas said. “Not only did she teach me a lot but she also made me believe in myself, she just changed the way I used to see reading, she made a really big change on me.”

Thomas feels like the title of Teacher of the Year is a big honor on a campus this size with so many talented educators.

“I would tell the people that voted for me that I’m extremely grateful, humbled, and flattered,” Bridget said. “There are so many fantastic people in our building. I know that much of the skill and ability I have is a reflection of phenomenal educators around me. They make me a better version of myself,”

Not only is Thomas an amazing teacher for her students, but she is always there for the staff and her family and anyone new she comes across.

PLEDGE. Coach Bridget Thomas and Coach Brian Thomas pledge at the start of the wrestling match on senior night versus Grand Oaks. After being an official team mom since starting at WHS, Bridget was hired an official coach last year. photo by Emily Meachen

“The best part of teaching with my mom is the simple fact that she is a good mentor even though she is my mom,” Harless said. “When I have questions right down the hall to help with a smile. I am extremely blessed to be able to learn and work with my mother. I have always seen her as one of the best in education with work ethic and her ability to build relationships with students. I only hope that I have inherited a fraction of her awesomeness.”

It is a myth that teachers only work the hours the school building is open. Thomas is one of those teachers that is an educator 24/7.

“She cares about all of her students and sometimes she even works all weekend long so that her students have an easier time learning in her classroom, but the best part is when we are driving to work and she reads me the bible while we go to work, she is a really sweet teacher and lady,” Bryan said.

Thomas handles the pressure of teaching and coaching by staying organized and reaching out to her family. 

“Doing wrestling and being a teacher comes with a great deal of pressure,” Thomas said. “Honestly, I make a lot of lists. I also have a great support system with my English I team and my family. They encourage me and are often a sounding board when I am overwhelmed. I also rely on my faith quite a bit to help me stay encouraged and positive. Finally, the hard truth of it is that I have to accept that I will work seven days a week when we are in wrestling season. Saturdays are usually 13-16 hour days with tournaments, so I have to work on my classroom things on Sunday. I just accept that’s the way things will go during the season, and that helps to keep my head straight.”

Teacher of a Year is an honor that is voted on by fellow teachers and staff of the school.

“Mrs. Thomas is a great teacher because she truly cares about her students and is an excellent team player,” English teacher Christopher Slovak said. “She’s also super humble. When she was first nominated for Teacher of the Year, she thought she didn’t deserve it, so I told her something I heard once about how Major League Baseball can choose an MVP from a losing team. After all, if he was so valuable, why didn’t his team win more? I told her that the MVP in baseball is chosen because if he were to be plucked out of the team he was on and placed on any other, he would instantly make that team better. That’s Mrs.Thomas. She makes my team better every day.” 

She is a valuable member of the freshman English team and the high school staff. Her time as an elementary teacher really has an impact on her teaching high school students who may struggle with reading and other skills.

“Mrs.Thomas first started her career as an elementary teacher, then moved to the high school several years ago,” Slovak said. “Her expertise is how to reach my struggling readers. She has a gift for knowing what each kid is capable of, how to help get them there and what they’re ready for now, and I always look to her for guidance in this area.”

Not only is Thomas always there for her students she is always there for her peers and anyone that comes her way.

“In working with Mrs.Thomas, I have learned the value of patience and the art of adaptability amongst all the chaos,”  English teacher Grant Hetherington said.  “As a teacher, a lot more things are thrown at you than you realize, and she does an excellent job at handling situations with equanimity. Mrs. Thomas is a great teacher because it’s abundantly clear that she makes a difference in each of her students’ lives, whether they understand it or not. Also, on Fridays, she break dances in the halls during passing periods, and if that doesn’t make her a great teacher, I don’t know what does.” 


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About the Contributors
Ashley Briones
Ashley is a sophomore and is starting her first year as an editor for yearbook and newspaper at WHS. For the past year she has been in UIL journalism, MAO, HOSA, and Student Council. In her free time she likes to go shopping and hang-out with her friends.
Isabella Melin
Isabella is a junior at Willis High School. This is her first year on the newspaper, and she is very passionate about sharing her's and other students’ stories on campus. She loves to be involved in her community and stay informed on current events. In addition to Wildkat Media, Isabella is a member of Student Council and values her education highly. She loves to help others, because of this, when she graduates, she wants to study and find a career in Psychology.
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