The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

The student news site of Brookline High School

The Cypress

Q&A with wellness teacher Keith Thomas

In addition to working as a Wellness teacher, Keith Thomas coached the boys varsity football team from 2013-17.

Keith Thomas is a wellness education teacher and has been working at the high school since 1997. Growing up in California, Thomas was the victim of bullying and had to switch schools multiple times. After he graduated from high school, Thomas pursued a football scholarship at Boston University, where he unexpectedly took an interest in teaching high schoolers.

Where did you grow up and what did your early years in elementary, middle and high school look like?

I grew up in Orange County, Calif. My journey was interesting. Growing up, we moved around a lot. I switched schools, especially from Kindergarten all the way until 5th grade. Basically, every year I would switch schools. I was bullied a lot growing up. I ended up joining a gang in 5th grade, and that really is what changed my life and my whole perspective. It made me a very cold individual. I wasn’t nice to people unless you were a part of my group, because that’s what was done to me for so long. I had a very hard time trusting people. What changed in the 9th grade was when I really got into sports. It started to change my view of me and seeing a different way of life. I wanted something different. I didn’t know how to get out of it, but I knew I wanted something different, and that’s what sports did for me.

How did you find your way to teaching health and wellness?

I, for one, never thought I would want to be a teacher growing up. I ended up going to Boston University on a football scholarship and thought I would go into business, which I didn’t like at all. It was too competitive. So, I ended up taking a lot of science classes, and then there was a program at BU where inner-city Boston kids would come to the school, and we would run a class for them once a week, which I really enjoyed. I decided to pursue teaching. I did my student teaching here in 1997, and before I was done, they offered me a substitute position and that’s really how I got here.

Looking back, is there a person or a group of people who inspired you or served as a mentor?

I think the biggest group that had the biggest influence on me was once I got here to Brookline High. Brookline High felt like a community to me. Some of my best friends today were the people I met in my first few years at the high school. From the moment I got here, I always felt welcome, and I always felt like I was a part of a community, something bigger than myself. I think that’s what drew me here.

What is your message to high school and middle school students who may be feeling lost and want to try something new?

Get involved in the community. That’s my number one thing, whether that’s a club, sport, drama, after-school activities or student government. Get involved. The sooner you get involved, it’s much easier to find your group and your community. It’s really hard if you’re alone and you don’t get involved. It’s an instant connection with a group of people from all different backgrounds. But really, the big message is to treat people the way you want to be treated and never judge from your first perspective. Always keep an open mind to individuals. That’s really what I want to say.

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