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Sean A. Thom  |  @SeanAThom

Sean A. Thom | @SeanAThom

Sean is currently an 8th grade science teacher and science department head at Camden Promise Middle School, which is a part of the Camden Charter School Network. The goal of the network is to give all children in Camden an equal opportunity to achieve their greatest potential, to raise awareness through educational policy, to expand resources, to build leadership, and support program capacity for the city of Camden. Prior to this, Sean spent 2 years serving as the principal of a private, out-of-district school for students with behavioral and emotional issues. Sean began his educational career by teaching middle school science for 6 years throughout New Jersey (in Hoboken, Camden, and Millville). 


Sean completed his undergraduate work at Rutgers University, where he majored in Communication, with a minor focus in Organizational Leadership. He attended graduate school at the University of Scranton, where he earned his MS in Educational Administration. 


In addition to being an educator, Sean has received a patent for a student-centered teacher feedback system. This approach takes the focus solely off of student output and examines student input. The process allows students to provide instant feedback on any one of several key aspects of a lesson. He is currently developing a plan to get this system in the hands of students as soon as possible. If you would like to collaborate with him on this, please reach out! 


When he is not focused on his professional endeavors, Sean loves to spend time with his wife, their two sons, and their two dogs. He enjoys running, mountain biking, training for and running Spartan Races, riding his motorcycle, and doing whatever he can to stay active and involved.

Posted by on in Leadership

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I know thousands of educators in this country. I don't know any that are not experiencing disgust, anxiety, anger, and many other emotions now due to the direction of our country. We are working within the confines of racism, misogyny, classism, and intolerance to educate our students the best that we can. But are we doing enough? Could we be doing more? Are our voices truly being heard?

A lot of these educators are doing the best they can in their respective classrooms and schools, but that is often where the activism stops. See, many of us work in conservative districts where expressing ourselves and thoughts on social media and to the world is a negative. We are afraid to get too involved because we do not want our involvement to come back to haunt us. 

Did you know that as public school educators, the First Amendment protects us as long as we are speaking outside of our official duties in the interest of the public (Garcetti v. Ceballos)?  The ACLU published a must-read piece, "Government Employees Get to Have Opinions, Too", that details how we can voice our thoughts without fear of retribution.  Basically, don’t speak about your specific, official duties outside of school and you will be fine. If you do experience any issues with your employer, reach out to the ACLU right away. 

In the current state of our nation, freedom of speech is arguably the biggest right that we have to battle a dictatorial administration. It is our ability to speak out against policy decisions that do not benefit us as Americans. It allows us to join in solidarity to make our voices heard. Without it, America is no different from any other authoritarian regime.

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Posted by on in Leadership

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I need help. It’s a phrase that I thought many times yesterday, but never once verbalized. I’m not sure why I never directly asked. Maybe it was pride. Maybe it was stubbornness. Maybe I didn’t want to seem weak. Regardless of my subconscious reasoning, I am very thankful that my lack of asking didn’t prevent others from helping.

Yesterday I ran the NJ Elite Beast Spartan Race. 13+ miles in the beautiful, but grueling landscape of Mountain Creek Resort in Vernon, NJ. For months leading up to the race, I balanced my professional and personal life with 3:30AM workouts that could last up to two hours or more. I found a way to get my diet right. I didn’t think that I would need as much help as I did. I thought I was rock solid. I was wrong and that’s okay.

I had very high hopes for this race. This would be the Elite Spartan Race that I made some noise. Maybe I would make Top 10. Better yet, maybe I would even place! When I left the race, I was sitting at 83 with a finish time around 3 hours 40 minutes. A lot went wrong, but so much also went right. I am incredibly proud of some of my failures and accomplishments on the course. I am even more proud of my fellow Spartan brothers and sisters and the humanity on display throughout the race.

I arrived at one of the water stations early in the race. I asked a volunteer working if there were any stations during the race that would have energy chews for the athletes. She told me that she was not sure, but then asked if I wanted apple sauce? Are you kidding me?! Of course I wanted some apple sauce!

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Posted by on in General

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If you follow me on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook, chances are you have seen my usage of #OurFutureFirst, but what does it mean? What and who does it apply to? Why am I using it when posting about political, global, and educational issues? What is the point?

I came up with the phrase “Our Future First” when discussing politics and life with my good friend and mentor Marlena Gross-Taylor. We were trying to create a slogan for a potential political campaign that would be inclusive while signalling our intent to focus on the future of our country and our world. I suggested these three words and we immediately knew that we had something.

Our

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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning

 

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Friday was an interesting day for my students and myself. We saw a demagogue be sworn into arguably the most powerful and important position in the world. We watched an inaugural address that basically said America was terrible: our schools are "flushed with cash" with students "devoid of knowledge", our people are on welfare and not working, gangs and drugs are destroying our country, and mothers and children are trapped in poverty.

Throughout the speech, we were all thinking the same thing, how would this impact us as individuals? At the time, we didn't really know, but I think we are getting a clearer picture. Actually, we received some strong indicators within the first few hours of his presidency and it started with the transition of the White House website.

Before you read any further, please know that I am aware of how the site updates and transfers when a new president comes into office. Not only am I aware, but I made sure my students also understand how this works. This knowledge does not change the high level of concern that we felt after hearing of some of the changes.

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Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning

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 No matter where you look on social media, you will undoubtedly see posts about how happy people are to see 2016 come to an end. The year was marred by issues of violence and brutality in all areas of our country, deaths of many people who contributed to society, the election of a demagogue to serve as our president, and too many other occurrences to list. It is easy to see why so many people are eager to watch the calendar flip to a new year.

I understand it, but I don't agree with it. 2016 was an interesting year for all of us. It was even more so for me. This was the year that I became fully awake. I immersed myself in the issues that we are experiencing in our world. I became more educated so that I could bring these lessons to the students and staff in my buildings. I stepped my game up and started tackling issues and questioning on a much more public level. It has not always been easy or well-received, but I committed to being awake and working to awaken others.

I appreciate 2016 for all that it has done. I recognize that 2017 brings a lot of uncertainty. Nobody quite knows what direction our country and world will move after January 20. We have no clue how the events of 2016 will impact us at home or in our schools. This can create fear and trepidation, but we must not succumb to that. Instead, we must be more brazen, more steadfast, and more daring to do everything we can for our families, our communities, and our students.

This is why my one word for 2017 is awake. I am a lot of things, but I am an educator first and foremost. This extends to my family, my students, my staff, my community, my social media networks, and wherever else I can make a positive impact. Last year was the tip of the iceberg for me. I am awake and plan on doing everything in my power to create positive change in our world.

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