With former English teacher Anne Jones transitioning to the role of Director of Communications and Marketing when school resumed Jan. 5, McNick was in need of a new English teacher for second semester. Joining the English Department is Gretchen Thomas. Born in 1997, the now 23-year-old grew up in Anderson Township, attended St. Ursula Villa for elementary school and graduated from St. Ursula Academy in 2016. Thomas has been a “neighborhood gal” since day one. As a child, she played a multitude of sports, including soccer, lacrosse, softball and volleyball. She played club volleyball halfway through high school, and that passion has carried on into the future. Thomas now plays sand volleyball four nights a week, and has coached the sport for three years.
It’s common for teachers to possess a love for the subject they teach; Thomas is no different. “When I was in high school, I loved English,” she said. But her story is a bit different from others. “I decided to chicken out, basically, from the Honors English track at my high school. Then I decided that I wasn’t getting enough English in my life, and started taking creative writing, and looked into different writing extra-curriculars that I could do.” She joined a national program called “Cappies,” where a team of writers from various high schools across the Greater Cincinnati area attend different high school theatre productions and critique them. “It helps young writers promote their journalistic style of writing and allows them to advance in their skills,” she said.
After discovering her talent for writing, Thomas attended Loyola University of Chicago for three semesters studying journalism. She then returned to Cincinnati to pursue a degree in education at Xavier University. Thomas graduated with her Bacheoler of Science degree in Middle Chilhood Education (grades 4-9) in December 2020. With an odd graduation time and just being fresh out of school, she saw the opportunity to become a teacher at McNicholas High School and took it. “I almost transferred to McNick in high school, so it’s always been on my radar… Once I started meeting people at McNick I was like, ‘yeah, I definitely need to be there, it seems like such a positive place where they’re really focused on making sure the students get the best education that they can, especially in this crazy year,’” she said.
“I always thought and said that I might do some service based teaching… that service piece of it was always important to me, I just didn’t quite know what it looked like. In the future, maybe way down the road, that could still happen; teaching English just brings me joy. The idea of bringing it to people who need it is always going to be in my mind. For now, [teaching high school English] is like a dream job…. Hopefully it came across already, but I am super excited to be here, and am thankful for everybody, their patience and kindness as we all adjust to this change.”