Ernestina Nez Thompson

KIPP King Collegiate, San Lorenzo, CA

Since she first came to KIPP King Collegiate, Ms. Thompson has been a champion for students with special learning needs. In her first year at KIPP King, she developed one of her classes for students with Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) as an AP English Language class, with a record 117 students enrolling and taking the exam that year. Outside of her classroom, Ms. Thompson is the faculty advisor and coach for her school’s chapter of the Bay Area Urban Debate League; during the pandemic, the debate team persisted via distance learning, and two of her students placed third in the Novice Semifinals this year.

“Ms. Thompson has built a consistent classroom culture that I wish I could bottle and replicate in all classes,” says Nicole LeBlanc, School Leader at KIPP King Collegiate High School. “Kids respect her, trust her, and believe her when she teaches—they work, they persevere, they laugh, they push, they help each other. On my tough days, I stop in Ms. Thompson’s class to turn my day around, and it works every time.”

If you have a few minutes, check out this heartwarming video of KIPP King students, families and staff congratulating Ms. Thompson.