Ohio Today: For Alumni and Friends of Ohio University

Terrez Thomas
College of Education

Terrez Thomas

'Excellence is a continuous striving'


Hometown: Cincinnati, Ohio

College: College of Education

Major: Middle Childhood Education

You've been selected as one of 10 graduates who embodies the promise of Ohio University. What does this mean to you?

I am committed to living the goal of excellence of Ohio University beyond my college career. In my career, I will exhibit a model of what Ohio University produces.

Is there a faculty member who has inspired you?

Three influential faculty members who have invested and contributed to the nurturing of "my promise" have been Drs. Francine Childs (African American studies), Rosalie Romano (education) and Dawn Jenkins (assistant director, McNair Scholars program). Although there have been many more individuals along the path, these magnificent professionals and mentors have refused to allow me to settle for mediocrity but rather strive for excellence.

Tell us about your research on school funding. What have you learned from your work?

My research on school funding allowed me to see the influence that politics has on education. This led me to observe political influence nationally -- Chicago Public Schools -- and internationally in Honduras. I learned that education and politics are inseparable, and I believe the divorce of the two has led us to the current crisis in education finance.


Explain why you would like to become a superintendent.


My senior year in high school I wanted to be an engineer. But when I began to research school funding, I saw the problem within public schools, and I wanted to be a teacher. I still want to be a teacher. I need to be a teacher so kids have a role model. But being a superintendent means I can get into issues much higher than the teacher level, like education policy.


The political climate affects the classroom. A teacher is the number one political advocate, and prepares kids for the political environment of society. My family didn't understand why I wanted to go into education, but when they see how serious I am of it, they are very supportive now.


You say you won't settle for mediocrity, and often use the word "excellence." Can you explain that?


Excellence is a continuous striving toward perfection. Excellence is not an option it is a must. Everything I do I put 100 percent in it. You can never reach perfection. It is something that you strive toward. I won't stop striving toward it, but I don't think it's something that I can obtain. Once I get to the next level, I see how much I lack, so I continue on. But I resist thinking negatively; it destroys people's thought processes. I keep a positive mental attitude and resist negative thoughts.


What sustains you and keeps you motivated?


My faith sustains me. And I receive motivation from my mom. She assists me in all different aspects.


How do you see yourself?


As someone who doesn't give up, I can do a whole lot. But I keep trying to learn from failures.


What is your approach in teaching children?


I was in South Africa doing student teaching, which is so different than the States. But I see that all kids are the same. I find a similar interest, pose a question and intellectually engage them in the lecture. It's all about finding a way to get them engaged, based upon their interests, and incorporate that into the lesson.


What intrigues you?


I've been reading a lot of Martin Luther King lately. I'm intrigued by how much he knew about the world. When I in was in South Africa, I could see so much. He knew so much, yet he still preached love and nonviolence.

Terrez was recognized this year through the university's "Promise" advertising campaign. To learn more about that campaign and Terrez, click here.

Interview by Jenaye Antonuccio, BA '95. Photo by Travis Dove, MA '09.


Posted 05-16-08


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