Special Ed teacher Jonathan Thomas loves inspiring students, coaching new generation of track stars

Kristina Tsakos
arts editor

Jonathan Thomas is a paraeducator, track coach and fitness club sponsor here. His skill-set and array of passions make him a source of inspiration for both staff and students.

After attending university in Louisiana with a track scholarship, Thomas knew that he wanted to carry on his dedication of sprinting to others. Thomas started coaching in 2011 as the head coach of his daughter’s recreational track team. The founder of the Firebirds Track Club recognized that Thomas would be a great addition to their coaching staff, and hired him to be an assistant. The Firebirds Track Club, as described on their website, is a “non-profit organization established for the purpose of providing a track and field program for all interested youth in Montgomery County, MD between the ages of 6 and 18.”

In 2014, the school’s track department had a position open for an assistant coach for the team’s sprinters. Head coach Kellie Redmond decided that Thomas was best fit for the position. In 2016, he was promoted to head coach of the track team.

Thomas knew early on that coaching track for high schoolers was a goal of his. Every day he works to provide his runners with the motivation and guidance his high school track coaches lacked.

When Thomas’ runners are in the offseason, he runs his Fitness Club, which takes place before the winter sports season. The club is not limited to runners, however it incorporates all the elements of track and field training such as weightlifting, sprints, and circuits. The exercises that Fitness Club do can be applied to any sport.

When Thomas isn’t with his athletes on the field, he’s with his students in the classroom. Thomas, along with the other special education teachers and paraeducators, works in a self-contained room with students on the Autism spectrum. He assists his students in getting from the bus to class, unpacking, and finishing their schoolwork. The students also engage in training related to occupations. Their academic day ends with electives, and Thomas helps them back onto the bus. He encourages the school to engage with the special ed department.

But his day does not end there. Within minutes after eighth period, Thomas is heading out to the field for track practice, and doesn’t leave until it ends at around 5 p.m..

Thomas is an athletic leader and an educator, but most importantly, he is a father. After picking up his kids from their sports at middle school and high school, he helps cook dinner for his family and provides assistance on homework assignments. After an evening with his family, Thomas completes some late-night studying for his own coursework. “Despite all the time and energy I give to coaching and teacher, I always make it a point to be there for my family. Regardless of what I have going on, I do all I can to make sure I’m there for them. I try to make all their games and activities and it gives me joy to be there. I feel this keeps me balanced,” Thomas said.

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