Teresa Thompson is extremely passionate, energetic, and dedicated to the teaching profession that she has chosen. She is definitely a "go-getter" and one who pursues every endeavor and project with zeal.
Last School year, Teresa became the media specialist at South Tattnall Middle School (STMS), where she has been an educator since 2002. Overall, she has invested the past 29 years in the education of children and challenging them to find their niche and to foster it. She firmly believes that each child has a gift that he/she may not have yet realized.
Her education has included her first degree of a bachelor's in Middle Grades English Language Arts (ELA) and Social Studies. She followed that with a master's degree in Instructional Technology. Teresa is endorsed to teach Gifted and English as a Second Language (ESL) and certified to teach fourth-eighth grades ELA, Reading, and Social Studies. In addition, she is certified as a Media Specialist for Pre-K through 12th grade.
"My first teaching job was at Lyman Hall Elementary in Liberty County in 1993 as a fifth-grade teacher. I taught there for seven years and then was the Media Specialist my last two years at Taylor’s Creek Elementary. However, I wanted to be in the community where my daughter would be attending school. In the fall of 2002, I began teaching at Glennville Middle School (now known as South Tattnall Middle School)," said Teresa.
"I have never regretted the move here so that I could be close to my family during the day," she added.
Her teaching career at STMS has been diverse. She has taught Gifted ELA to sixth, seventh, and eighth graders; language arts; computer literacy for seven years; and exploratory, among a myriad of other duties and responsibilities in which she has excelled.
Most notable is her commitment to the Beta Club at the school. Teresa was presented with recognition as National Beta Elementary Sponsor of the Year, a presentation made at the recent National Beta Club Convention held in Nashville, Tennessee.
She has served as a state sponsor for the past six years, beginning her State Beta leadership in 2015. In this capacity, she plans the annual state conventions, which includes securing judges and volunteers for the competitive projects, which, over the years, has included Junior Beta Club students in sixth through eighth grades and Elementary Beta Club students in fourth and fifth grades.
"STMS teacher Kerry Waters and I are partners at our school for Beta Club, and we work well together. Our goal at our national Beta conventions is to give the students other learning opportunities. While in Nashville, we visited the Grand Ole Opry, and they were able to line dance at the Wild Horse Saloon. We encourage them to have fun, along with the intense competitions," said Teresa, with the Beta students' primary focus on service.
"That first year, in 2004, our Beta Club consisted of about 14 students, but that number has grown to 130, with 30 of those attending the convention in Nashville a few weeks ago," she said. The students are motivated to earn the grades to be members of the Beta Club.
The 2018 National Beta Convention was held in Savannah, and it will be held there again in 2024.
Teresa's peers are aware of her dedication to teaching and to the students, and she has been voted Teacher of the Year for the 2005-2006 school for STMS and as Tattnall County Teacher of the Year, the latter a selection made by an out-of-county panel of educators. Once again, in 2020, she was selected as STMS and Tattnall Teacher of the Year and was a finalist (among the top ten) for State of Georgia Teacher of the Year, the first Tattnall County public school educator to have attained this distinction.
Although Teresa is a phenomenal educator, her heart centers around her family: husband Jamie, daughter Brooke, and son Zach.
Jamie, whose parents are Kathleen Thompson and the late Theron Thompson, is from the Gooseneck area. He has worked for Claxton Poultry for the past 28 years and is a Breeder Technician.
"We enjoy being with each and look forward to our date nights and other excursions. We usually drink our coffee together each morning and carve out time to be together. We celebrated our 29th anniversary recently with a cruise to the Bahamas," said Teresa.
Brooke, 24, is a graduate of Georgia Southern University (GSU), an English major who graduated with Magna Cum Laude honors. Her first teaching job, a two-year stint, was for Teach for America in a charter school in Clarksdale, Mississippi. However, COVID interrupted her classroom time, but undeterred, she continued her teaching duties via the computer. She is certified in Georgia, Tennessee, and Mississippi in Elementary and Middle Grades Special Education (SPED) and in ELA.
"Brooke will be teaching this year at STMS, where we had an opening for a seventh-grade English teacher," said Teresa, and Brooke will be pursuing a dual Master's degree in the fall at Georgia Southern in Instructional Technology and School Library Media.
Brooke is also engaged to be married next year in Jamaica to Ryan Adams of Memphis, Tennessee. He is former military and is currently enrolled at GSU, majoring in Cyber Security.
Son Zach, age 19, is a rising junior at the University of Georgia (UGA) and has spent his past three semesters at GSU in the Honors program. He had earned 36 college credits through the dual enrollment program when he was a student at Tattnall County High School (TCHS). He is a Mechanical Engineering major. Teresa said that he will probably work in the corporate arena for several years, but that she feels he may later enter the classroom as an educator, too.
Teresa was born in Germany where her father was stationed in the military. Her father, Gregory Zielinski, died in 2014, and he had retired from a 25-year Army career and 20-year civil service career. Teresa's mother, Mary Jane Brannen Zielinski, died in 1990 from cancer. Teresa's siblings include Kathy Dasher and Bo Altman of Glennville, Steve Altman of Savannah, and Jeffery Rogers, who is a Chief Deputy with the Tattnall County Sheriff's Department.
"I have been blessed to enjoy my career in education and look forward to additional years. I don't really see 30 years as a retirement goal. I like my interaction with the students and my position as Media Specialist is one that allows me to continue that interaction. I love to read, also, so this is my niche," said Teresa.
Teresa Thompson’s Recipes
2-1/4 lb. 3” to 4” cucumbers
3-3/4 cups water
3-3/4 cups white vinegar
6 Tbsp. pickling salt
12 to 18 heads fresh dill (fresh is better than seeds, but you can substitute 6 to 8 Tbsp. dill seed)
1 Tbsp. mustard seed
Pickle Crisp (Calcium Chloride)
Wash and cut cucumbers (I prefer rounds instead of spears, but either will work.)
Prepare brine -- combine water, vinegar, and salt. Heat to boiling.
Pack cucumbers loosely in hot, clean jars, leaving a 1/2” of head space at the top of the jar.
Drop 2 to 3 dill heads (or 3 teaspoon of dill seed), 1/2 teaspoon of mustard seed, and pickling crisp (follow directions on container to match your jar size) on top of the cucumbers that you have placed in the jars.
Ladle hot brine over the cucumbers.
Release air bubbles with a stir; maintain 1/2” head space; wipe rim clean and seal jars.
Process jars in boiling water for 5 to 7 minutes; jars will seal as they cool.
I use a canning rack in a large canning pot. I heat my lids and rings and use a magnet to handle these as well. I also have a grip that I use to pick up my jars from the processing pot. I keep several dish towels on hand, too.
NANA’S TOMATO SALAD
2 to 3 fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes, chopped in a bowl
1/4 cup diced sweet onion
1/3 cup fancy shredded cheddar cheese mild, medium, or sharp will do!)
1 sleeve Premium Saltine Crackers, crushed
salt, pepper, and mayo
Add onion, cheese, and crushed crackers to bowl of chopped tomatoes. Salt and pepper to taste. Add enough mayo to combine the ingredients, but not so much that your salad becomes “soupy.” I start with a couple of tablespoons of mayo ― I may need more, just depending on how juicy my tomatoes are. If you love fresh sliced tomato sandwiches, then you will LOVE this salad.
2 to 3 ripe avocados
1 small sweet onion, diced
1 to 2 Jalapeño peppers, diced
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
2 limes, juiced
salt and pepper
Select avocados that are dark green and soft to the touch but not mushy. (If they are too firm, they are not really ripe enough.) Split them in half lengthwise and remove the seed. Using a large spoon, scoop the inside flesh into a bowl. (I score mine with a knife (before scooping) while it is still inside the skin, so that it is already diced.) Mash to break up any large chunks. Add onion, Jalapeños, and tomatoes to avocado. Give a good stir to incorporate ingredients.
Roll limes on the kitchen counter to “mush” the insides, and then juice the limes into the avocado mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir to incorporate lime juice throughout your Guacamole.
Enjoy on salads, with chips, or on toast with a fried egg!