Position: After & Before School Care Coordinator
School: Gates Elementary School
School District: Saddleback Valley Unified School District
City, State: Lake Forest, CA
Music that Describes Henry
Henry Thomas was nominated by Hawley Woods, a parent of a student.
"My son is in second grade at Gates Elementary School," Woods said. "He has been in TLC from the first day of Later Gator Kindergarten. TLC stands for the The Learning Connection, and it's the before and after school program. Henry Thomas welcomed my son with open arms and was an ally since day one. My son has been bullied several times throughout kindergarten, first, and second grade. Each time, Mr. Thomas handled the situation with care and love towards our child and the others who were involved in each situation. Henry encouraged our son to stand up for himself verbally and notify an adult in every situation. Mr. Thomas sat side by side as Jackson addressed his bullies and gave Jackson the support necessary to be confident and courageous in these encounters."
"When we were shut down because of COVID-19, Mr. Thomas set up Zoom time with the TLC group so the students could still connect with each other," said Woods. "They had fun activities scheduled so that the kids could still win coins and participate in the TLC experience virtually. When TLC reopened, we were one of the first families to continue the program. We did so in hopes that the program would continue to have the funding it needed to keep this wonderful staff employed. During the summer, we found out what site Mr. Thomas would be supervising. Our son pleaded with us to register him for that site, even though it was the furthest location from our home. We knew that our son would thrive at that site and knew he wanted to be with his favorite TLC Supervisor, Mr. Henry (as the kids call him)."
"Mr. Thomas has an impact far beyond the TLC program at Gates," said Wood. "He is instrumental in his school's well being. He is one of the reasons that our family has continued in the public school system and the Spanish Immersion Program at Gates. Mr. Thomas leads the video newsletter, as well as other video programs the teachers have put together over the past ten months that we have been distance learning. Mr. Thomas is constantly advocating for his program and kids."
"Over the years, I have been able to recognize educators who are working in their positions for the right reason Mr. Thomas is one of the employees that is there for the right reasons: to help students and make his school a better place," said Woods. "He has 25 years of service and is an original creator of the TLC program within the district. We did not think twice about paying the increased price for this program."
"Henry Thomas has taught my son emotional resilience when cooperating with others," said an anonymous parent. "Things don’t always go exactly your way, but you should always look for an equitable solution. This perspective is such an important life skill, for which our family is forever grateful!"
"Henry made my son feel special and seen when he started TLC and knew no one in the program," said another parent. "He always made a big deal when my son presented his answer for the trivia of the day."
"I know Henry's extra efforts to connect with the kids and parents are truly amazing," said another parent. "His Gator News, MC efforts at jog-a-thons and holiday shows, training of students to be leaders at TLC, attitude, and spirit brings our community together."