Charter school math teacher receives Excellence Award

Keith Thomas, a math teacher in Indianapolis, won the Excellence in Teaching award. (WTHR/RUSS GOVERT)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Keith Thomas, Jr. has been awarded the 2020 Lisa M. Sablosky Alumni Award for Excellence in Teaching. The annual award recognizes outstanding Teach for America alumni in Indianapolis who demonstrates extraordinary leadership, pursues educational equity, and believes in the potential for all children to succeed.

For the last seven years, Thomas, Jr. has worked as a middle school math teacher at Paramount Brookside, a K-8 school on the east side of Indianapolis. TFA Indy said he is being recognized for his commitment to students, his students’ significant academic progress and his ability to foster lifelong learning environments in and outside of the classroom.

(WTHR/Russ Govert)

Thomas is a 34-year-old native of Cincinnati who is planning a wedding with his fiancée for May of 2021. He said seeing the potential in his students is the key to motivating them to learn and believe in themselves.

"I feel like when I got to high school, I wasn't really pushed as much. I wasn't motivated as much. I was a really good student, but I could have done better. And I feel like if I would have had somebody that really pushed and advocated for me to get into all my dual enrollment classes and those advanced courses in high school, they could have gotten me college credit, I would have been better off," he said. "I just want to make sure that my students don't ever feel like they don't have somebody who pushes them and motivates them to be the best they can be."

Thomas Tenents for Teaching:

  • Be consistent
  • Take responsibility for your actions
  • Strive for excellence

Thomas's principal describes him as in a league of his own. "He didn't go to be a teacher, an educator, and he actually went in for Accounting. He was going to the library after class and he ends up teaching his peers, and that's when he realized, he wants to be a teacher. I think he just sees it through a different lens and has this innate ability to connect with a student or with anyone that he comes in contact with" said Paramount Brookside Principal Dexter Taylor.

During the COVID-19 crisis, Thomas developed and implemented new systems that have already shown early success. He has used these systems to track student participation, grades, and parent communications. He shared these tracking systems with his team, school, and chief academic officer, and led a virtual professional development session for these systems to be implemented district-wide. The last two summers he accompanies Indianapolis students on a trip to Ghana to expand their world view. The trip planned for the summer of 2020 is now canceled due to the pandemic.

To read more about Teach For America Indianapolis (TFA Indy), click here.