Local graduate’s education mission is Positively Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Bailey Thomson is home for her brother’s college graduation, and she is reconnecting with the region where her passion for education started.

“I think the diverse population of Richmond, as well as the exposure to lots of different opportunities, set me on an awesome path,” Thomson says

Thomson is a founding team member of SPARK Schools in South Africa. The charter school system was founded in 2013 on the principles of service, persistence, achievement, responsibility and kindness.

Thomson’s days in the classroom at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School and then the College of William and Mary opened her eyes to how empowering learning can be. However, she also realized not everyone has the same opportunity.

“I really believe my purpose is to serve underserved communities through education.”

In college, Thomson taught one summer in Houston. She accepted a job in San Jose, California after graduation. She then learned about SPARK and how the co-founders were determined to turn around South Africa’s post-apartheid education system. She knew she needed to move across the world to see how she could help.

“For me, that is absolutely the best part, seeing people connect across boundaries that just twenty years ago they wouldn’t have been able to.”

Thomson believes with high expectations and confidence, children everywhere can succeed despite their circumstance. While her vision is playing out continents away currently, Thomson says she is still a Richmonder at the core.

“I grew up around people who believed in service to others, and that is the lesson that I have taken from Richmond is to commit oneself to a cause to serve other people and to be of more use in the community and to have grit through challenge. And that’s why taking Richmond with me is really important to me.”

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