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Debra is heavily experienced in teaching students at both ends of the academic spectrum. She began her career in the field of education teaching English at Bloom Township High School in Chicago Heights, where nearly one-third of the population lived below the poverty line. She created several programs that helped students gain a broader perspective of the world and emphasized maximization of their potential. After 3 years, she moved to New York City where she used her English degree and heavy writing/editing experience to gain employment with Throckmorton-Satin Advertising Agency writing training manuals for Viacom technicians and customer service reps. At the same time, she worked with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in Harlem establishing tutoring programs for academically-challenged youth and teens.
Debra later relocated to Los Angeles where she taught with the LA Unified School District at the Beverly Hills High School while again helping CORE establish summer camps and after-school programs for marginalized students in the Crenshaw District. She returned two years later to Chicago to accept a teaching position at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools.
Three years later, Debra accepted a training position with Tellabs, a telecommunications manufacturing company in Lisle, Illinois where she wrote training materials for technicians, customer services reps, and sales reps for the company's top Fortune 500 clients. After several years there, she was offered a training position at Ameritech. Her tenure at Ameritech was cut short due to its acquisition by SBC. However, her two-year stint was marked by a rapid rise in positions from Training Specialist to Training Manager to Internal Consultant to the Vice President for Human Resources, and later, to Director, Leadership and Executive Development.
After the Ameritech/SBC merger, Debra began a telecommunications training consulting business, while teaching in the Naperville District 203 school system and serving on the Adjunct Faculty of Benedictine University. She established SocioTech, a training and development consulting firm and acquired Ameritech as the company's first major client. Over the 7 years of SocioTech, Debra secured several Fortune 500 clients in the telecommunications industry, including SBC, 3Com, Sprint, MCI Worldcom, AT&T, Verizon, Motorola, and US Cellular. Eventually, her consulting skills extended well outside the telcom world into a range of industries with clients such as Baxter, Allstate, and General Growth Properties leading her to add 15 consultants to the company.
Ms. Thompson has also successfully established several educational enrichment centers and programs throughout the country. Her experience includes the founding of The Learnatory, an enrichment center opened in 1978 in Los Angeles, expanding to Chicago and New York, The Frank London Brown Academy, a private school in Chicago in 1981 - 1989, and the innovative Prep2000, an after-school enrichment program for high-potential students in Naperville, Illinois in 1993, and GenTech STEAM Education Center in Chicago from 1993 - 2014. She relocated to New York City in 2014 where she re-opened The Learnatory as a program at St. Francis College in 2017.
Deeply committed to education, Ms. Thompson has spearheaded the development of education in STEAM – Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Medicine – for elementary and high school students throughout the Chicago area. She initiated this effort with the establishment of the Protege Career Learning Center, later transformed into GenTech offering programs to students in grades 1st thru 10th grades in Video Game Design & Creation, Animation, Web Design, Film Production, Coding, and Robotics. GenTech expanded to including courses in Chemistry and Architectural Design giving students a glimpse into the new fields of the 21st century through hands-on, inquiry-based, project-oriented experiences. Debra personally trained and developed 18 teachers into STEM Senior Specialists over the eight year operation of GenTech. Debra then moved to New York where she developed curricula and implemented seven STEM classes during a year with Manhattan Youth organization.
Throughout her career, Debra has been instrumental in helping schools and corporations develop both their people and their learning content. Her rich repertoire includes Professional Development for teachers and leadership, the Action Research Model for Schools and Corporations, Curriculum Development, the Application of the Scientific Method and Engineering Design Principles to Align Standard Curricula to STEM.
The unique combination of education and corporate experience enables Debra to provide invaluable insights for students and school leadership alike by making education relevant and connected to real-world outcomes. For both corporations and academic organizations, she seeks to build skills that foster deep intrapersonal strengths and connections to the opportunities that abound helping people maximize their potential and optimize their capabilities.
Active in community affairs, Ms. Thompson is listed in Who's Who of American Women for her leadership in the fields of training and education. She has been members of the American Society for Training and Development, Rotary Club of Chicago Southeast Chapter of Rotary International, and numerous other professional and social organizations. She is an avid golfer and still enjoys teaching as much as helping schools become better schools, teachers become better teachers, and human capital enrich their value.
Thompson is the proud mother of three children, all of whom hold degrees in creative fields. Brandi Thompson-Ullian and Ryann Thompson are both Honors graduates of New York University with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Communications and Film Production, respectively. Trenton Thompson holds a Bachelor of Arts in Arts Communications from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Masters of Art in Animation and Screenwriting from the American Academy of Art in San Francisco. Thompson recently became the proud grandmother to a boy, a girl, and twin girls.
Debra E. Thompson
Proudly Celebrating 40 Years of Excellence in Educational Enrichment
Since 1978 . . .
Debra E. Brown-Thompson, Professional Training and Education Consultant, is a native of Chicago, Illinois and now resides in New York City. Debra earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with teaching credentials from Northern Illinois University and a Master of Science in Management and Organizational Behavior, with a concentration in Organization Development, from Benedictine University. Debra has successfully led The Learnatory since 1978.
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