Beloved Principal Retires From Rogers

April 07, 2016 | Audrey Campbell

Clare Thompson has been an educator for most of her life, with the vast majority of it spent at Rogers Adventist School in College Place, Wash. At the end of this year, she will be stepping away from a career that has been full of rewards and surprises.

Thompson began her teaching career by holding school for her dollies and deep down knew that she would be a teacher when she grew up.  However, she took a side trip into nursing for a few years until she had children.

After she had been a stay-at-home mom for a while, a friend begged her to become the lead teacher of the Walla Walla College Child Development Center. Thompson finally agreed when she was lured with the offer of free tuition for her 4-year-old twins.

By the end of that year, she was having so much fun she decided to return to college and earn her teaching certificate. It added the extra perk of quality time with her children and the chance to be 100 percent mom during school vacations.

Thompson began teaching at Rogers Adventist School in 1985. Since then, she has taught nearly every grade, plus classes at Walla Walla University. She became vice principal in 2001 and then principal in 2010.

Things have changed since Thompson first began teaching. Technology and a more child-friendly philosophy are two of the major changes she has experienced. “Through current brain research, we are learning more about how children learn and are realizing that one-size doesn’t fit all,” Thompson says. “We now look for ways to meet each child’s needs and interests within the given curriculum, and I’ve noticed that children are treated with more respect, which is as it should be since we are all children of God.” She also notes that parents are more involved.

Thompson has most enjoyed being able to share Jesus especially with children who are going through difficult times and watching a child "get it" after struggling to understand. “I will miss the children and the families and the myriad opportunities to solve problems,” she says. 

Thompson’s dream for the future of Adventist education and Rogers is education that is completely focused on serving the whole child, including the spiritual aspect. “I hope this continues to be a learning community where teachers and children learn together,” she says. “I pray for parents who value Christian education where the home, church and school work together to raise children for Jesus.”

Thompson is married to Tom Thompson, who recently retired from Walla Walla University after 42 years of teaching. The Thompsons have three children. Trina, the oldest, chairs the music department at Andrews University, while Heidi is a dietitian at Kaiser Westside Medical Center in Hillsboro, Ore. Tyler is a shipwright and machinist in Wrangell, Alaska.

Clare and Tom also have two grandchildren who are the lights of their eyes. It seems somehow that Clare’s teaching days are not really over.