Kimberly Thompson

Kimberly Thompson

Kimberly Thompson received her doctorate degree in education in June, but the elementary school administrator has been making a difference in the lives of children for years.

Thompson, who also completed her administrative credential at Cal Poly Pomona in 2010, serves as the co-administrator at Thorman Elementary School in Tustin, working with many academically at-risk students, empowering them to become successful.

Because of her hard work and passion for education, she was awarded the Co-Administrator of the Year honor from The Association of California School Administrators. Thompson is representing Orange County in her category.

“It’s very humbling,” she says. “I work with phenomenal people.”

Thompson, who is part of the first cohort of students to graduate from Cal Poly Pomona’s doctoral program, crafted her dissertation on teacher burnout and ways to provide positive support for educators. She is one of 15 that graduated in the class of 2015.

“It’s been wonderful, challenging,” she said of the doctoral program. “It’s a great cohort of people who help you to take learning that much further.”

Before becoming an administrator, Thompson taught middle-school English, social studies and science. She worked as a middle-school assistant principal before making the switch to the elementary level.

“I think it’s the idea of helping students, parents, and teachers, and making sure that everyone has the opportunity to succeed,” Thompson says of what she loves about being an educator.

The biggest challenge is keeping up with changes in the field, where there is fast development and evolution, she adds.

“There is no time to get too comfortable because it’s constantly changing,” she says.

Ron Leon, a professor and co-director of the Department of Education’s doctoral program, recalls knowing Thompson when she was earning her administrative credential. She entered the doctoral program in September 2012.

“She’s a very bright, talented young woman,” he says.

Leon was not surprised by Thompson’s award because she is energetic, committed to students and supportive of teachers, he says.

Her recognition as co-administrator of the year is an honor for not only her school and district, but also for Cal Poly Pomona, Leon adds.

“She has tremendous potential,” he says. “There is no question in my mind that she will soon be a school principal.”

Doctoral programs often focus on research and theory, but Cal Poly Pomona’s emphasis is on research to practice, Leon says.

“The real focus is leadership,” he says. “It’s really about maximum leadership for student achievement. It’s about building the capacity of leaders to affect student achievement, opportunities for students, equity and social justice, and obviously being supportive of teachers in terms of quality instruction