The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

Local Scene

September 29, 2012

Woman experiences foreign culture as an educator in Egypt

PALESTINE — Growing up in a family of creative individuals including writers, photographers and educators, it was only natural that Jennifer Thomason would follow those footsteps first as a journalist and then into the classroom. But the outgoing, vivacious blonde also had an itch to see the world.

Her thirst for adventure has taken Thomason on a journey that few educators experience, to teach in Cairo, Egypt.

“I’ve always been fascinated with Egypt and Egyptian culture. At one point I thought about becoming an archaeologist or an Egyptologist,” Thomason said. “I just knew I wanted to go explore Egypt.”

Eventually, she said, she figured out that the kind of work involved in those careers would be too tedious for her personality.

“But teaching is even better, because now I get to live in Egypt and experience the culture, while also teaching a whole new type of student. It seemed like such a great challenge.”

Thomason, who teaches seventh- and ninth-grade English at the Global Paradigm School in Egypt, graduated from Palestine High School in 1994 and attended the University of North Texas in Denton where she majored in Radio, TV and Film. She graduated from UNT in 1998 and worked at the Herald-Press from 2000 to 2001, then the Texarkana Gazette from 2001-2005. She then moved to Little Rock and worked for several years at newspapers in the Little Rock area.

In 2005, Thomason attended the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and earned a Master of Education in Secondary Education. Following graduation, she began working for the Carrollton-Farmers Branch Independent School District teaching English for eighth- through 12th-grade students. She taught at Creekview High in Carrollton for two years then Barbara Bush Middle School in Irving for three years.  

Thomason left that position in August to move to Egypt with her 12-year-old daughter, Chloe.

“I knew this would be a great experience for Chloe as well,” Thomason said. “How many 12-year-olds get to live in a place like Cairo?”

If Thomason’s name is familiar, that’s probably because her father, Michael Thomason, owner of Ranger Air & Heat, writes columns for the Herald-Press. Her mother, Linda Andrews is retired from the Palestine ISD central office and now does consulting work for districts across Texas. Her stepbrother, Joel Andrews, was a longtime photographer for the Herald-Press. Her stepfather, the late David Andrews, owned a photography studio downtown for many years and also was a freelance photographer for the newspaper.

Thomason’s sister Christina McDaniel, is a teacher in Krum, while her stepmother, Judy Thomason, worked for years at Westwood ISD and is now is the principal at Oakwood High School.

The former Palestine resident said it was her desire to “make a difference” that inspired her to become a journalist and then a teacher.

“I wanted to be a person who makes a difference,” she said. “I love the day-to-day life of a teacher and seeing the students grow up and have those ‘ah ha’ moments throughout the year. It’s good to know I might make a difference in a few lives, even in a small way.”

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