68 Applications with Thomas Primm

Thomas Primm

  • Wanted to be a teacher when he was young 
  • Worked as a tattoo artist and painter 
  • Went back to school in his 40s and received a Bachelor’s in philosophy 

What was your experience as a college student?

  • Didn’t always feel it was necessary to engage/debate with the philosophy professors 
  • Was good friends with other students 
  • After his Bachelor’s degree, he went on to a Master’s program in art and theory 
  • Then added a second master’s program in special education 
  • At the same time, he was still a tattoo artist and started substitute teaching as well 

Did you encounter any problems getting hired?

  • He was concerned he would struggle to find a position due to his appearance.
  • Worked as an ISS teacher his last year of his Master’s program
  • Before being hired as a para, Thomas applied for 68 jobs. 
  • After doing well as a para, he received a teaching position 

What was your experience being a substitute teacher?

  • Thomas enjoyed helping the students and getting to know them 
  • Overall, subbing was a very positive experience 
  • His first subbing experience was in a kindergarten classroom
  • Unfortunately, the school did not want him to come back to sub for the elementary school
  • He was worried his tattoos would keep him from being able to do what he loved 

Would you change the way you look?

  • Thomas got his first tattoo when he was 13 to be rebellious
  • If he was 13 in today’s world, he wouldn’t get a tattoo because tattoos are so common
  • There’s a different view about tattoos nowadays 
  • However, he was familiar with being treated as “bad” even before he was heavily tattooed 

Advocating for kids

  • Part of the reason he wanted to go into education was to help the kids that are labeled as “bad” or “lost” 
  • Thomas was “lost” in school and didn’t have teachers advocating for him or trying to help him 
  • He truly cares about his students 

Becoming a process coordinator 

  • Thomas recalls being injured trying to help his students 
  • Which led him to make the decision to become a process coordinator 
  • It was a very challenging job that was not well-liked 
  • He was shocked at how many students were being pushed into special education that didn’t really need it 
  • He thought a lot of students were being mislabeled 
  • Thomas wanted the school and other teachers to step up and learn how to address different behaviors 

Supporting each individual student

  • The same strategies are not going to work for all students 
  • Thomas wanted to support each individual student and have everyone work together
  • Many professionals simply lower the standards, but Thomas maintained high standards for these students
  • And the students responded well!
  • The students liked that he would speak to them like adults, the connection, and his attention. 
  • Remember, if the student is being neglected at home, they only know one way to act at school 
  • This can lead to being neglected at school, but we need to see these kids too

The education system can be lazy

  • Teachers get paid the same regardless of their skills
  • Many teachers benefit by flying under the radar 
  • The system is not promoting teachers to be better 
  • There’s no way for just one person to fix the issues ingrained in special education
  • But we have to remember, kids are human beings with feelings 
  • Educators can be caught in the system, trying to make it through their days and can forget what their students are feeling
  • The connection to the individual is lost 
  • Thomas believes the best thing we can do is connect with others 

Trying to make a difference

  • Life can be absurd and pointless, but Thomas wanted to do something meaningful
  • So he decided to help the person next to him 
  • He can’t fix the whole school, but he can help the student 
  • The kids were always in “fight or flight” mode, so it was a challenging task 

Are You Still Working in Education?

  • After spending two years as a process coordinator, he has ended his time working in education 
  • COVID has been very rough for all educators & many educators have resigned 
  • Though, he does miss the classroom and students
  • Thomas is currently pursuing another degree, with hopes to work at the collegiate level.

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