By Bev Odom/The Red River Sun—
WELLINGTON — On MLK Day 2021, Wellington Elementary teacher’s aide Erica Thomas taught a lesson for the Head Start Pre-K students concerning the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. Thomas is an online Texas Tech University student majoring in education as well.
“It was a honor and a privilege to teach these wonderful, amazing and sweet children in this Head Start class,” said Thomas.
In her lesson, Thomas asked the students if they had heard of Dr. King and explained his message, that all people are created equal regardless of one’s color. She read a book, “The Story of Martin Luther King, Jr.” and reviewed a fact sheet of his life. The youth also watched a BrainPOP video on Dr. King which is an animated educational site for kids.
Thomas said she asked the students what they would you ask him, what they would you thank him for and what they would you tell him? They answered that they would thank Dr. King for his message of equality.
“Students chose paper colors that matched the color of their skin to make the poster,” she said. “The kids placed their hand cut-outs on the poster to form a circle to symbolize equality.”
Thomas, WHS Class of 2000, graduated from Clarendon College in May 2018. She will receive her bachelor’s degree in education from Texas Tech University on May 14, 2021, the same day her daughter Briana Morning will graduate from WHS.
“I plan to walk the stage in Lubbock in August so I can attend Briana’s graduation,” she said.
Previous to her employment as a full-time aide at Wellington Elementary in September 2013, Thomas worked for a year as a substitute teacher at WHS.
She began a career in healthcare after high school. Thomas served as an attendant for Outreach Services for elderly family members including her grandmother Bessie Mathis. She also worked at Parkview Manor Assisted Living.
“My grandmother used to push me all the time to go back to school,” Thomas said. “She died in March 2016. Working at the school as a teacher’s aide is what made me decide to pursue my degree and work to get my master’s degree. So I’m not done yet after I receive my bachelor’s.”
Thomas plans to move somewhere (still undecided exactly where) and teach a Head Start or preschool classroom full of students of all races.
“We are honored to have Erica on our team,” said Lisa Manuel, Wellington Elementary Head Start teacher. “She will be an amazing teacher in the near future.”