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Laura Thompson is the mother of four and holds a degree in piano and vocal performance, but she never planned to be a teacher.

Now, she teaches kindergarten at McKissick Academy of Science and Technology in Easley, where she said she has stopped running from what was meant to be. After teaching in private schools in Mississippi and Texas, her family landed in the Upstate, where her husband is a minister in Walhalla.

“Honestly, God just kept putting me in teaching situations,” she said. “We decided I should go back to school and get a teaching degree.”

Thompson said she sets extremely high expectations of her students and they deliver. If a student declares that he can’t read, Thompson reminds him that he can’t read yet.

“We embrace the power of the word ‘yet’ in our classroom,” she said. “We do a whole series on that little, bitty word. If they love me and I love them and they know it, they will achieve so much more. The more encouragement you give, every situation is going to bloom. We do a morning meeting and we have family time. We build that relationship. We foster feelings of kindness. I leave every day just amazed at what they can do.”

Thompson’s daughter loves American Girl books, so she decided to hold a book club once a month on Saturdays for students who could walk to school but who could not get to the library.

She also sponsors an after-school coding club once a week. For her, it’s not work.

“For the first time in my life, I am exactly where I need to be, doing exactly what I want to do,” she said. “It’s my joy. I wake up every day thinking, ‘I get to do this.’”

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