Jessica Thurston

Thurston takes helm as Kindergarten Center principal
Posted on 08/14/2018
Thurston takes helm as Kindergarten Center principal

Eugene Field Elementary has developed a track record of having teachers advance to become principals in the Poplar Bluff school system along with other area schools, public and parochial alike. 

Jessica Thurston is the seventh teacher on Eugene Field Principal Jennifer Taylor’s watch to be promoted to the building administration ranks. 

Formerly an instructional interventionist at the elementary school, Thurston was hired by the Board of Education to succeed Carol Brotman as principal of the Kindergarten Center. 

“I see it as a win-win,” said Taylor, who has served as principal since 2009/10. “I’m excited to see how this partnership will better serve our transition of incoming kindergarten students.”

Following a stretch at Zalma Elementary, Thurston’s career at Poplar Bluff Schools began at the former Mark Twain Kindergarten Center a decade ago. 

“I always wanted to teach kindergarten – that had always been my dream,” Thurston recalled. “At the time, there was a boom of teachers and Poplar Bluff was not hiring any new teachers, so I had to wait for an opening.” 

Her career soon took another detour when she was recruited for the Reading Recovery program under Collaborative Work, receiving her certification through Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau in 2010. She filled various district roles, mainly working with struggling students at Eugene Field as well as O’Neal Elementary. 

She was named elementary grade-span teacher of the year in 2017. While she loved being in the classroom, she said, she felt compelled to step up when Brotman announced her retirement from education. Thurston earned her master’s degree in administration from William Woods University in Fulton.

“Working with intervention in first grade, I knew we needed somebody who knew kids and knew our community,” explained Thurston, a graduate of the PBHS Class of 2000. “I want to prevent kids from being behind in first grade – the need is so important.”

Many of the kindergarten teachers whom Thurston worked with during the 2008/09 school year are still there, she made note. “This is a calling for them,” she exclaimed. 

“Our teachers are our best resource,” Thurston continued. She added that student success could not be achieved without the collaboration of parents, social workers, churches and business partners through the Bright Futures Site Council. 

Thurston and her husband Michael have a 5-year-old son Liam joining her this school year at the Kindergarten Center, plus an older child, Willem, entering the second grade at Eugene Field. 

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Cutline: Jessica Thurston gets a jumpstart on her new position at the Kindergarten Center, serving as building administrator over summer school in June in order to get acquainted with incoming students.

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