New Faculty Spotlight: Geoffrey Thomas

Monday, September 24, 2018

We are excited to welcome 14 talented new teachers to Heathwood this year and will be profiling each of them this semester. This week's featured faculty member is Upper School Biology Teacher Geoffrey Thomas, who holds degrees in both biology and art history from Wofford, earned a Masters degree at USC, and has taught at Dorman and Nation Ford high schools. He also has extensive experience coaching quiz bowl teams.


What do you enjoy most about teaching?

 I decided to join the teaching profession because I am a firm believer in the power of young folks.  They have an energy that can truly change the world for the better, and it has been my honor as a teacher to contribute to that energy.  I see the potential to effect positive change in Heathwood students more so than in any other group with which I have been privileged to work.  It is a remarkable challenge and quite a lot of fun to try to keep up with them.


What attracted you to teaching at Heathwood?

Heathwood has a strong reputation as a benchmark school that encourages genuine learning and whose graduates are successful once they leave high school.  I was first made aware of this reputation at the South Carolina Governor's School summer program when I was a rising senior at Dorman High School and met very impressive peers who were Heathwood students.  As my career in teaching has progressed, I have long wanted to join the faculty at a school like Heathwood, where I can actively engage with the community of student learners and feel freedom to teach in the ways that are best suited to me.  I was fortunate enough to make it onto the faculty, and I am proud to be here.  I hope to be able to seize the opportunity to add to this enriching environment.


What’s been your favorite thing about Heathwood so far?

 I tend to be introverted in my everyday life, and I have definitely been introverted while on the faculty at other schools at which I have taught.  Since I started at Heathwood, everyone here has been so incredibly friendly, my stoic facade has been shattered from the get-go.  I have learned so much about everyone who works here already, and I have relished it.  It is a place full of kind, interesting people one wants to get to know.


What is your favorite book?

My favorite book is unquestionably Rabbit, Run by John Updike.  I cannot begin to articulate just how capable Updike is with using language to build a picture of the mundane life of a typical American and to evoke sympathy from readers for a main character, Rabbit Angstrom, who fights against that monotony, despite his questionable choices.  It is a book about opposition to complacency, adventure, and forgiveness, and those are three values that I think are especially important to model toward all folks, especially the students I teach.


What is your favorite inspirational quote?

It is a bit overplayed, but there is good reason that Gandhi's "be the change you wish to see in the world" gets so much attention.  If we do not act to do the things that we know to be right and necessary to make our planet a better place, no one will do those things for us.  I do not want to look back on life and ever think I was too afraid to try something I really thought would turn out well, even if it turned out disastrously.  I want that courage to grow in the students I teach because I know they can end up doing more for the world than I ever could if they will just be brave enough to try.


What is a fun fact about you that people would be interested or surprised to know?

The one and only time I tried to go to a soccer game in Europe was in Rome, and a very fast young person snatched my ticket right out of my hand as I stood in line, waiting to get into the stadium.  There was no catching him--he was like the wind!  I hope he enjoyed the game.  I actually had a pretty good time observing the culture outside the stadium while I waited for my friends to come out of the game.


How do you hope to grow during your time at Heathwood?

There is always room to be better as a teacher, and I certainly can grow a lot with each passing week.  I am excited to have joined a faculty of such accomplished professionals who can teach me what it means to truly master this profession while maintaining a zest for academe and life.  I cannot wait to learn from them!