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Inside Education S20 Ep8 | School Matters: Life & Legacy of Assemblyman Tyrone Thompson

Inside Education S20 Ep8 | School Matters: Life & Legacy of Assemblyman Tyrone Thompson

On this special
School Matters edition of
Inside Education, we honor the
life and legacy of Nevada Assemblyman
Tyrone Thompson. He believed that all
students are capable of excellence with
the right support. During Thompson’s
distinguished career in the Nevada Assembly,
he successfully sponsored legislation
to expand mentorship opportunities
for students, increase
student literacy and reexamine student
discipline policy. For the next half hour, we’ll dive into
each of those topics so close to the late
assemblyman’s heart. Our special School Matters
starts right now. ♪♪♪ Welcome to this
special School Matters edition of
Inside Education. I’m your host,
Mitch Truswell. “Two roads diverge
in a wood and I, “I took the one
less traveled by, “and that has made
all the difference.” You may have heard
that line from Robert Frost’s poem
“The Road Not Taken.” Making the right choice
at those forks in life is critical,
but it’s even more important
early in life. During this episode
we’re honoring the life of a man who recognized
the importance of helping children
who come to more forks in the road
than others. -I think it
is a reflection of his passion,
and that is wanting to meet kids
where they are and wanting to make sure
that kids that needed help the most
were the focus. -The late Assemblyman
Tyrone Thompson was a relentless
advocate for our youth and champion
for education who passed away
earlier this year. -That void we have now
in the legislature and the community is real
because he gave a face to those people that
are often forgotten. -But Thompson’s work
is inspiring others to complete his journey. One of Thompson’s
long-time passions, ensuring students
can read. We begin our look
at the assemblyman’s legacy with
Inside Education’s Bryan Callahan
who has more on Thompson’s efforts
to have students “Read by Grade 3.” “I’m heading up to Ruby
Duncan Elementary School “to Ms. Scott’s
kindergarten class, “and I love this part…”It’s a visit
the late Assemblyman
Tyrone Thompson
made often,
the time that would
shape a child’s life.
When he would walk
into my classroom, it was a celebrity. “We’re reading today,
and what’s important “is that when we read “we must have
special hats on, “at least we’ve created
that tradition. “So being that it’s
the holiday season, “let me show you the hat
that Mr. Thompson “is going to wear
for the kids.” ♪♪♪ “Is that like
the best Santa hat?”With his reading hat on,
Thompson brought to life
a world
of possibilities.
Ruby Duncan kindergarten
teacher Della Scott
says it wasn’t just
a guest in the classroom
that had the
students engaged,
it was the gift of reading
he brought with him.
-Do you make
cookies and stuff? (kids)Yeah.(Della Scott)
It got them excited
about reading because they knew he was coming
to obviously read to the class but then
he always brought books, and that was
theirs to have. Some of the kids,
this was their book that they actually got
to keep at their house.Putting books
in students’ hands
is a critical part
of literacy.
Assemblyman Thompson
recognized that importance,
championing several
projects to encourage
reading including
Nevada Reading Week,
Read with my Barber
and the Nevada
Read by Grade 3 Act,
originally passed in 2015,
giving more
literacy resources
to Nevada’s schools like
Ruby Duncan Elementary.
The state program
provides extra funding
to support reading
efforts across Nevada.
(Amy Manning)
We really want the kids
to read because reading is an aspect they’re
going to have to use in everything that
they do in life. It’s very
important that kids have the foundation. That way we can
continue to build them, to grow as they get
into the older grades.That foundation
starts when students
walk into Ms. Scott’s
kindergarten class,
something Thompson
recognized every time
he sat in the
hot seat to read
and answer questions.He was well aware
of the lessons that were being given
and the kids were, you know, kind of
showing off for him.While the focus
was on the students,
Principal Amy Manning
says the assemblyman
was always watching
and listening.
He definitely came in
with open ears, open eyes,
and wanted to know what real life was
inside the school. That way he
could come up with reasonable
solutions.One of the things
he heard from Ms. Scott
was a concern about
a slight tweak
to the Read
by Grade 3 program
she and other teachers
were concerned with.
When that law
was first rolled out, we had fears of thinking,
especially in schools like ours, we’re
going to have a slew of third
graders be retained.Assemblyman Thompson
sponsored a bill
in the 2019
legislative session
to address those fears
and provide more support
for those
who faced barriers
after third grade
and ensuring parents
have a voice in their
child’s education.
While many will remember
the laws he created,
the students at
Ruby Duncan Elementary
will remember him as
the man with the silly hat
who encouraged them
to pick up a book.
“It’s such a great
feeling to hear “the now-second graders,
third graders “say hey, Mr. Thompson,
when they see me “in the hallway.”Thompson won’t
soon be forgotten.
The encouragement
he gave to students
throughout the state
are painted on the walls
at Ruby Duncan Elementary
thanks to his donations,
and those messages will
have a lasting impression
for many more students
for years to come.
“You’re amazing.” Those are the kind of
messages that will live on well past him
being on this Earth. Bryan, thank you. Joining me now at the
roundtable to talk more about the Read
by Grade 3 initiative is vice president
of the Board of School Trustees
Linda Cavazos, Trustee
Dr. Linda Young representing District C, and CCSD K-12 literacy
and language development Read by Grade 3
coordinator Heidi Hoshibata. Heidi, let’s
start with you. I think we all
know the importance of everyone knowing
how to read, but this particular
milestone, hitting certain
milestones by grade three,
is so very important. Can you tell us why? (Heidi Hoshibata)
Yes. Research shows if
a student is not reading on grade level
by third grade, they’re more vulnerable
to be dropping out later on in their
educational career. Then also third grade
is that critical year where they’re no longer
learning to read but reading
to actually learn. -So it’s important
to establish that when they’re young.
-Very young, yes. -Trustee Cavazos, how
has this Read by Grade 3 changed from what was
previously happening within the
School District? (Linda Cavazos)
Mitch, what I’ve seen
a lot of is inclusion with the parents
and the engagement of the community,
the teachers and administrators,
everybody understands that this is
a collaborative effort and the goal is
to have these children reading by grade three, and if we do not
do all this together, if we do not
all work together, it’s not going
to be successful. Assemblyman Thompson
was a great part of that, of the inclusion part. -Making sure that
everybody knew– -Everybody knew
what was going on. -The community, a village
some would say. -Yes. -Trustee Young,
let’s talk about the important aspect
which she just touched on, that parents, guardians,
those of us at home after school at night,
also have an important part in helping students
learn to read, right? (Dr. Linda Young)
Exactly. Mitch, the
important component here is the love for reading and the love parents
have to ensure their child connects
to the reading process. One of the things we
find that’s exceptional to this is the
parent connects with the Read by Grade 3
literacy specialist, and they have an
opportunity to share some of the things
that’s going on in the school
that can be complemented
in the home. For example, just
reading 20 minutes a day with your child,
picking up a book or having a book
that’s fun, even have
children act out some of the characters
in the book, that makes reading come
to life for students. The most important thing
for students is to know their parents
are encouraging them, that reading becomes
a lifelong activity and certainly
will be something that will increase their
academic achievement throughout their
school career. -That’s something
that also has to be established
at a very young age. Thank you for
the insight there. Another one of
Assemblyman Thompson’s passions was mentorship. Inside Education’s
Cade Cridland takes us to
Legacy High School where a program called
“Batteries Included” is helping students reach
their full potential and become
the next generation of leaders
in our community. “He knew the power
of mentors, “not only himself
personally “but the effect that
it has on our community “to really help
young people.”Michael Flores was
the first chairperson
of the Commission
of Mentors.
The commission
itself was created
during the 2017
legislative session.
The driving force
behind the creation
of the commission?Tyrone Thompson.(Michael Flores)
Part of our task
was to find out how many mentors we have
and then what support is also needed to help
these organizations that are doing
mentoring work. So whether it’s small
grants for a nonprofit to get going
or background checks, Tyrone wanted to make
sure we had a structure in place to help
our young people.One established
mentorship program
that benefited greatly
from the new support
was the City of Las Vegas’
Batteries Included.
(Lisa Morris Hibbler)
The Batteries
Included program, which is
our teen program, really is about leadership
and service learning and really personal
development of our youth. The Batteries Included
program operates at 18 different sites,
so we have sites that are at our
community centers like Doolittle
Community Center and then we have
high school sites.Kasina Douglass Boone
is a Batteries Included
mentor and helped
establish the program
in Thompson’s district.For Assemblyman
the importance
of mentorship
stretched across
the entire valley.
(Kasina Douglass Boone)
Legacy was
the first school– because it’s a City
of Las Vegas program, but Legacy is
the first school in North Las Vegas
to actually be a Batteries
Included site. -What a lot of people
don’t know is the assemblyman
used to work for the City of Las Vegas
so as a manager, he was responsible for
a lot of these programs. Not that he necessarily
started them, but he certainly put
his own personal touch and he wanted
to make sure– one of the things
he always wanted to see was is there a way
we can scale this? Can we reach
other communities? But one of the things
that I loved about Assemblyman
Tyrone Thompson was that if he
believed something, he would do it
no matter what. -He always wanted
young people to have a seat
at the table. He always wanted to
teach them not only do you have a seat
at the table, sometimes there might
not be one so you have to bring and create
your own table. That’s what Assemblyman
Thompson did for a lot of us and a lot
of the organizations that are in District 17.For Douglass Boone,
her reward for being
a mentor is seeing
Batteries Included
members embrace
the program
and thrive
in the community.
One of the things
I really love about Batteries Included
is they truly meet a child
where they’re at. So if a child–
to see a child who comes to us as a freshman
and they’re timid and they’re shy
and you know they don’t really know
where they belong, to see them
their senior year standing up and
speaking and presenting, it is so humbling
to know that when you’re a part
of Batteries Included, you have a front-row
seat to greatness. (Trinity)
The mentors, we wouldn’t
be anywhere without them. They make
everything happen, give us so many
opportunities. They’re the ones
that tell us what we can do
to better ourselves. Without them it
wouldn’t be a program. (Cierra)
I have always loved
public speaking, but I had
a lot of anxiety. This program taught me
you don’t have to be scared to speak,
and you can change somebody’s life
without knowing it, and being part of
a community is more than just being a
number of a population. It’s actually
about volunteering and making things
better for others, not just yourself. (Josephine)
Honestly with people
like Ms. Kasina, you don’t
look at them like they’re your teachers,
you look at them like they’re mentors
within your life. They really do help. They help you
with motivation, they help you with like
I said opportunities that are very
far-fetched in order to receive yourself,
and you get plugged in with people you never
thought you could be in, and honestly,
they’re able to change you
for the better.Reflecting on his
own personal growth,
Flores credits the
mentorship of Thompson
with helping him
understand the importance
of being active
in community issues.
I didn’t realize how much
of a mentor he was to me. He would always reach out, hey, bro,
how you doing? How’s everything going? Whether it was getting
ready for a meeting or a hearing, you know, he was in constant
communication, and I’m fortunate
and I think I took that for granted
while he was here. I didn’t realize how
much I leaned on him until he was gone,
and as a young person, a young person of color,
he really was firm with me not to settle, you know,
to always do more, and know that you
belong at that table and in that room
which I think sometimes is hard for a lot
of young people. You know, he was such
an advocate for mentoring. I didn’t realize how much
of a mentor he was to me. -Cade, thank you. Joining trustees
Cavazos and Young at the roundtable
is Tammy Malich, assistant superintendent in the Education
Services Division. Tammy, I want
to start with you. I love the mentorships
we saw in that story. I know that’s just one
mentorship program and there are others,
especially those through the Harbor. Can you give us
a brief summary on what’s available. (Tammy Malich)
Sure. I had the
pleasure of working with Assemblyman Thompson first at Legacy
High School, I opened the school so
I got to know him there, and then work with him
on the Las Vegas My Brother’s
Keeper Alliance, on the NAACP,
as well as through Batteries Included
and the Harbor. Assemblyman Thompson
had the ability to not just encourage
and push others to be better people,
he embodied mentorship. I saw him firsthand
with the children, the young people
that he made such a direct impact on,
and was critical, a critical part
of their lives. He had the ability
to do that with ease, create those
relationships and help hold young
people accountable but help push them
to be better people. I also within this work
had the ability– or the opportunity to work
with Assemblyman Thompson to actually write
statute to create better opportunities
for young people not just to stand up
programs but also to change laws to put them
in a better situation as far as
providing supports. -I love, Trustee Cavazos,
what one person said in the story, giving
students a front-row seat to greatness
and helping them achieve things that
maybe were beyond what they think
they can achieve. What is the District’s
goal in mentorships? -I would have to say,
Mitch, that mentorships provide almost kind of
like that missing piece, that extra step
for the child that maybe doesn’t have possibly
the support at home or needs a little bit
of extra help at school, and Assemblyman
Thompson would always ask, what do you want to be? Because whatever
you want to be, you can be,
and he didn’t care whether he was talking
to an adult or he was talking
to a child. So his mantra was
always how can I help, and after I help you,
what are you going to do to go out and
help someone else? So as far as
the District, the mentorships
are that extra piece we’re trying to
provide for children so everybody has
the accessibility and the opportunity
to succeed. -Trustee Young,
we know there is such a great need
for mentors, right? What can the public do? They see this story,
they want to continue on with Mr. Thompson’s legacy,
what do we need to do? -The first thing we need
to do is to realize that we need
to do something. The second thing
we need to do is that there’s
much work to do. For example, we have
tons of children, tons of students,
lots of people in various communities
that need a role model. You see, what
Tyrone Thompson was, he was a role model
and all we have to do is lift up ourselves
and extend ourselves to some of the
students who need someone like us
in their lives. You know, it was Edmund
Burke that said all– I’m sorry, that’s
Martin Luther King that said “All that’s
necessary for the triumph “of evil is for good
people to do nothing.” See, if we have the
good people like you, me and all of the
people watching today, if they just
did something, take a child
to the library, have an opportunity to
engage with a child and just say how
are you doing today and continue to keep
working as hard as you can in school
because it will pay off. -Yes, a lot of
opportunity for all of us to
help out. Thank you. Many felt the loss
of Assemblyman Tyrone Thompson
and showed their grief and love in many ways. Soon after his passing,
flowers decorated the seat in the
Assembly chambers that beared his name. CCSD’s Board
of School Trustees also made
a proclamation in honor of Thompson’s
work in education. These were the first of
many tributes to the man who dedicated his life
to helping others and fought
for education. In fact, Thompson
was known for being a champion for those
who didn’t have a voice, and as Inside Education’s
Maricio Marin reports, the community
is making sure his legacy
will live on.Assemblyman
Tyrone Thompson
had many
titles in life.
“Boss, peer,
subordinate, mentor, “collaborator, but most
importantly, friend.”In every role, Thompson
had a single goal.
“And that was
to lift up others.”That explains why
Thompson had a lasting
on those he met.
(Tim Burch)
There are few people
that you have the pleasure of coming across
in your life that make a meaningful
and lasting impact, and Tyrone Thompson
was one of those people.Tim Burch makes it his job
to help kids in need
as Clark County’sAdministrator
of Human Services.
He’s grateful for having
Thompson in his life
and says Thompson made it
his life’s mission
to ensure
children’s education
was always top of mind.Tyrone was a man
who got to shake hands with presidents,
but I’ve never seen him light up more than when
he was able to hug a child.Soon after
Tyrone’s passing,
many in the community
wanted to find
the perfect tribute,
and in true Tyrone fashion,
the idea spread quickly
involving many
in the community
including his own family.
(Syndi Sayles)
He would say education
brings everyone together. It doesn’t care
who you are, whose you are,
and what you are. Education is key
in every community.For a man who spent
his life building
a foundation
for student success,
those who knew
and loved Thompson
came to the Clark County
School District’s
School Naming
Committee in hopes
that the foundation
poured at the corner
of El Captain Way and
Mountain’s Edge Parkway
would soon bear
Thompson’s name.
“You could not find
a better friend, “a better son,
a better candidate “that a school
should be named after. “He did everything,
live, breathe, “slept education.”The committee listened
intently to the stories
of Thompson and two other
deserving candidates.
(Deanna Wright)
When you have a school
named after you, I mean, that’s
forever, right?The committee’s chair,
Trustee Deanna L. Wright,
and the rest
of the members
heard from a packed
room of supporters.
When the opportunity
presented itself to potentially get
his name on the side of a building that
embodied so much of what he fought for
and championed throughout his life,
I couldn’t not be here. (Christian Holliday)
He definitely
pushed me harder to complete
my education, to get my
bachelor’s degree, to get my
master’s degree. So to see him
have a school named after him,
oh, my gosh, it would be phenomenal
for our family.The committee
ultimately voted to name
the newest CCSD school
set to open in fall 2020
Tyrone Thompson
Elementary School.
I think what this does
is it helps young people in our community
understand that when you serve
in a selfless capacity that it does
make a difference.A difference for
generations to come,
for students
who will be attending
the school
named after a man
who pushed himself
and the community
to always help
those in need.
To have his name on
the side of a school, to know there will be
children laughing and running and playing
and learning, there’s nothing
that represents Tyrone’s legacy
more than that. -Maricio, thank you. Next month CCSD’s Board
of School Trustees will vote to accept
the School Naming Committee’s
recommendation to name the school
after Tyrone Thompson. The school
is set to open at the beginning
of the next school year. We’re back
at the roundtable with trustees
Cavazos and Young for some final thoughts
on the legacy of the late assemblyman
and how his work will affect our future. Trustee Young,
what’s his legacy? -His legacy
is about building. You know, it’s Frederic
Douglass that said “It’s better to
build strong children “than to repair
broken men,” and that’s what
Tyrone Thompson did. He repaired children,
but he mostly built what we call students
to become educators and doctors
and attorneys. So the big thing that
Tyrone Thompson leaves is his legacy of building
a community of children who will make our future
not only brighter but a future
that will be excellent for not only them but
for their children as well. -Trustee Cavazos,
what do you see as his legacy? -Well, gosh,
it is so huge, Mitch, to even try to
describe everything that this
gentleman did for us. But something that
he said to me very often, very often, is that
when you write a policy, he says please remember
that behind that policy is a student,
a child, a community, a parent, the teachers, everybody that is
involved with that child. You’re not just
writing something on a computer screen,
on a piece of paper, you’re writing something that is going
to affect a child. The name of that school
is going to reflect that for many
generations to come, and I think it’s going
to be wonderful. -We appreciate your
time helping us learn more
about his impact. Just as we heard
throughout this program, Assemblyman Tyrone
Thompson was a man who made sure
those without a voice were given the
opportunity to speak up. As we leave you,
hear from members of our community
who had the pleasure of working with
Assemblyman Thompson as they reflect
on how he advocated for education
and for our most precious resource,
our kids. Thank you for watching,
and we’ll see you in two weeks
for the start of our student holiday
performance shows. We’ll see you then. ♪♪♪ (Steve Sisolak)
The amazing thing
about Tyrone, no matter how bad
the day was, he always had
a smile on his face, and he did whatever
he could to bring somebody else up,
to make them feel better about themselves. (Jason Frierson)
Tyrone welcomed everyone
with open arms. That was
just who he was. (Kasina Douglass Boone)
He just made you
always want to be better and be the best part
of who you are, who you were
meant to be. So one of the things
for me is that– having someone like
Assemblyman Thompson in my life, to be able
to pour into me so that I can pour
into others meant a lot because everything
that I do right now, I’m always trying
to make sure that his legacy lives on
in the work that I do in the community
and to always continue to pass the torch
to the young people. (Nicole Cannizzaro)
Being in his presence
was really truly being in the
presence of someone who you knew
was just a good soul, someone who cared
about others and really wanted to do
the most amount of good for the most
amount of people. (Brittney Miller)
His number-one priority
was equity, making sure that every
one of our students in Nevada received
the same quality education and that
what was offered wasn’t based on your zip
code or your economic– you know,
what the community’s economic standing was. So I would say that
as an overarching was his priority. (Lisa Morris Hibbler)
He felt almost
called to make sure that he could help
other children. I think he was deeply
grateful for the chances that he was given
in his life and always wanted
to reach back and try to pull
other kids along. There’s so many kids
that have graduated and always talk about
what he did for them, and we could write
a whole book on it. (Michael Flores)
A beautiful reminder
of his passion. You know, he did
not hold back. He didn’t care
who was in the room, where we were at. He was going to fight
for what he believed in, and I think that’s
beautiful about Tyrone. It’s something
that we all should take a lesson from him. If we believe in
something, we know it’s right, regardless of how
uncomfortable it might be, we have to speak up. -It didn’t
improve by chance; it improved by Tyrone. That’s what
made it happen. He was a tireless advocate
for those who needed help. -He was put here
to serve, and in every way that’s
exactly what he did in his day job and
in his elected position, in community engagement
and at the church. He was here to serve, and that was
what fulfilled him and I think
that was his fire. Anyone around him
could feel it, and it was a joy that
we hope to continue for decades to come. ♪♪♪

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