‘Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these”.’
One of the great joys of Ms Maria Thompson’s daily life on our Primary Years campus is watching the children’s faces light up when she’s reading to them. It could be the words of Jesus or the magic of Mem Fox or even the delights of Eric Carle’s Very Hungry Caterpillar. This devout Catholic is passionate both about teaching children to read as well as helping them witness the gospel.
‘That wonderful innocence and trust and unconditional love children bring with them is very special to me’, she says.
‘Their faith in Jesus nourishes me. Their gasps when they turn the page of a good book inspire me’.
Educated by the Mercy Sisters, Ms Thompson embraced the more contemporary setting of the Dominican charism and community 11 years ago when she came to Santa Sabina as a reading recovery teacher. She has had a 40-year teaching career so far, always in Catholic institutions and in the Broken Bay as well as Sydney Diocese.
‘I’ve had a long journey in Catholic education and I wouldn’t be anywhere else’.
Eight years ago she was given the additional appointment of RE Coordinator. She coordinates student learning and programs, works alongside classroom teachers, looks after students’ pastoral care and arranges the Primary Years campus’ observations of the rhythm of church life. This occurs through classroom prayer, regular Liturgies of the Word in the Del Monte Chapel and Mass in the Santa Sabina Chapel.
Ms Thompson’s work is often assisted by the students of the Liturgy Team, a group committed to engaging their peers in religious life and creating our Dominican faith community. Ms Thompson says their values make her grow each day and their energy and ideas are unstoppable.
‘They are a very special team, giving up their time and ready to take on any role. I have faith in giving the students a voice and helping them believe in themselves’, she says.
Going into ‘the wonderful land of story and magic’ through children’s literature is another way that Ms Thompson reaches her students.
Maria Thompson follows the advice of favourite Australian children’s author Mem Fox who says, ‘Read to them every day. Fill their minds with a torrent of wonderful words, familiar and unfamiliar, common and grand’.
She also enjoys engaging with toddlers at Rhyme Time, our lively playgroup held once a term for community members too young for school. Rhyme Time is filled with rhyme, rhythm, song and dance.
As a mother and grandmother, Ms Thompson’s preoccupation with children continues beyond the end of the school day. She also loves to walk and go to the theatre, opera and cinema. But most of all she loves to read, ‘always searching for that next story’.