Drew Thomas Charges into Leadership at Olathe East

Blythe Dorrian, Co-Editor

Originally from Hayes, Kansas, Drew Thomas grew up being heavily involved in debate/forensics, building speaking and leadership skills from a young age.

Graduating from the University of Kansas in political science, Thomas involved himself in student senate, interning with Kansas state senator, Jerry Moran’s campaign, and bringing a committee that helped KU hire their basketball coach.

However, after graduating, Olathe North offered him a spot in assisting the debate team. The school atmosphere brought Thomas to the want to go back to school pursuit of an education degree.

Making the decision, Thomas moved back to his hometown in Hayes, and attended Fort Hayes State University. He ended up getting his Master’s in administration back where he started his education, at the University of Kansas.

He first started teaching in Tonganoxie, Kansas. Following that position, teaching English, assisting in debate at Olathe North for two years, sponsoring FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America), and student teaching at Olathe Northwest became the eager principal’s next jobs.

Prior to joining the community of Hawks, Thomas mentored teachers at a high school level, including at Olathe East.

Hearing of the interesting leadership opportunities in Olathe, Thomas applied and was accepted into the Lead Academy. Ten teachers around the district sent in requests that would hopefully help themselves become recognized by schools as a potential leader.

This entrance to the program helped administrators from all over the district see the potential that Thomas could bring to their school.

One of Thomas’s cousins graduated from Olathe East in 2015 and is credited by Thomas for helping him gain familiarity to make the process more interesting.

“I spent the least amount of time working with teachers at East, and it always intrigued me. I knew that I wanted to become a part of the process of starting new things,” Thomas said.

Because Thomas mentored teachers before, he had an insight that helped him get a glance on what his job would be like.

“There are still surprises, but that is what is good about working with seasoned principals,” Thomas said.

One of the jobs for Thomas, monitoring the mount testing for freshman and sophomores, shows how the students stand in regards to the rest of students their age in the state and compares them to how they might perform on an equivalent test like the ACT.

He also serves on the district committee that helps look into the 1:1 program at all of the local high schools. Starting next year, the high schools, starting with Olathe West will roll out MacBook Air laptops.

Along with the new technology, the new future teacher’s academy will add to the 21st century programs at Olathe East, and the leadership program will get a name change to civic leadership.

Thomas says he has really enjoyed his time at Olathe East so far.

“It has been a lot of learning. Just when you think things might be what you think they are, there is always change, which is good, too. One of my favorite things about Olathe East is seeing all the diverse opportunities, musicals to sports, and plays that the school offers. I graduated from Hayes High School, and I was always on the road for debate every weekend, so seeing what happens here on a daily basis is really something,” Thomas said.

Thomas wouldn’t change anything about majoring in political science; he said that he loved what he did, the experiences that came with it, but that it was a whole different career path. However, he advises that students looking into college should think about what they want to do.

“I am willing to talk to students about questions, or anything that they are interested in. I like to talk to people and be as personable as I can,” Thomas said.

When Thomas is off work, he spends time with his wife who is an art teacher at Olathe Northwest and his two-year old daughter who is in pre-school.

Thomas excitedly continues his debut year at Olathe East being the third Mr. Thomas in the building. He encourages students to stop in and say hello sometime.

Blythe Dorrian//Co-Editor