(Photo used by permission of Thomas)
Teacher Elissa Thomas (left) flaunts her dress with a co-worker at the Poillera Carnaval, a celebration of women’s influence and participation in carnaval traditions in Barranquilla, Colombia, in 2015.

Next year, math and computer science teacher Elissa Thomas will trade Sacramento for tropical South America. 

Thomas has taught AP Computer Science A and geometry for the past two years, and the brand new AP Computer Science Principles for one.

Before coming to Country Day, she taught computer science at a K-12 school in Barranquilla, Colombia.

Now she said she would like to return to South America. Though she isn’t sure where she will be, the cities that interest her the most are Quito, Ecuador, Lima, Peru, and Bogotá, Colombia. 

And though teaching remains a job option, Thomas said she is interested in a career in tech or IT (Internet Technology) too.

Thomas said that the atmosphere in South America is one of the biggest reasons for her departure. 

“There’s just a certain energy – the culture down in that part of the world is just so much fun,” she said.

Furthermore, moving back to South America will allow Thomas to practice her Spanish more often. The cost of living is also less, she said. 

“There are just so many things I can get from spending more time in that part of the world,” Thomas said. 

Still, she said she will miss the friendliness of the school community. 

“It’s probably one of the warmest, most welcoming places I’ve ever had the chance to work at,” Thomas said.

“I don’t think I’ll find that anywhere I go.” 

One of her favorite memories, she said, was going on the freshman trip to San Francisco for the first time this year.

“It was really cool to see all the connections that people made and how well everyone worked together and got along as a team,” Thomas said.

She said she also enjoyed the collaborative group projects in her classes, such as videos on sorting algorithms in AP Computer Science A and design and drawing projects in her geometry classes.

“It just blows me away how creative people are at this school,” Thomas said.

Faculty members and students said they will miss her too.

“(Thomas) has been a great roommate here in the tech office,” said director of technology Tom Wroten, who shared an office with Thomas in the Makerspace. 

“I looked forward to seeing her each day and having conversations about random things.” 

Freshman Sydney Turner, who had Thomas for Geometry Honors, said she will remember how helpful and accommodating Thomas was. 

“Whenever I needed help or was struggling, she always helped me, and (she) gave me time to make things up when I missed so much school because of swimming,” she said. 

“She would always be open if you wanted to talk to her.” 

Turner said she also enjoyed Thomas’s relaxed teaching method and homework policy.

“The homework was due at the end of every chapter, so if I was busy one night, I could skip that night and turn it in after,” she said.

Before moving away, Thomas said she will travel to some beaches in Southern California with her relatives. 

Next year, the AP computer science classes will be taught by new teacher Fred Jaravata (who filled in for Wroten while Wroten was on paternity leave), Geometry Honors by math teacher Patricia Jacobsen and Geometry by chemistry teacher Victoria Conner. 

Originally published in the June 6 edition of the Octagon.

—By Héloïse Schep