Sarah Jordan Thompson has a public education pedigree that’s hard to beat. She attended K to 12 in Portland schools, has two adult daughters who did the same and spent 15 years on the Portland School Board, with a hefty sprinkling of PTO service along the way. As the daughter of a US History professor at the University of New England (when it was Westbrook College), learning has always been an important part of her life.
Thompson attended Portland High School and was deeply involved in student government and many clubs before graduating in 1988. She remembers her years at PHS as full of fun, friends, and exploration. She was on the cheerleading squad, played soccer, and got her first experience on the slopes with the ski club. French Club, History Club, the newspaper, and the yearbook were among her other pursuits.
She has particularly fond memories of Bill Beck and Dorothy McCann. Mr. Beck was a Vietnam veteran who taught math for many years and drove the school bus after he retired to keep his connection with school kids. “He was very serious about education but did everything with a great sense of humor. He was always sharing stories; he was a very nice man,” she recalled. Madame McCann taught French and really brought the subject to life, sharing stories of French culture and classic food like crepes. These teachers had both high standards for their students and the understanding that learning should be fun. She remembers most teachers as being very engaged with their students both in and out of the classroom. To her, PHS “felt like family.”
After graduation, Thompson went to the University of Southern Maine for Business Administration, pausing her studies when she gave birth to her first of two children. She was very active with the PTO when her girls were in elementary school and saw an opportunity to be of greater service as an elected official. She joined the Portland School Board in 2006, a year that felt like “going into a fire.” The learning curve was steep, but she found her work had impact and meaning, so she continued to serve until 2021.
After many years working for a variety of businesses, including Idexx Laboratories, Thompson returned to USM to complete her degree. Since 2011, Thompson has been working at Maine Medical Center, coordinating the clinical rotations and senior practicums for nearly 1,100 nursing students each year. Recently, she returned to college and is working towards her Master’s in Hospital Leadership at the University of New Hampshire.
A lifelong Portlander and devoted PHS alum, Thompson helps plan the reunions for the class of 1988. One of her fondest memories of the alumni community is the Turkey Day Football Game between PHS and Deering High School. “It was a wonderful, friendly rivalry. Back in the day, it seemed like everyone in Portland came to see the game. Thousands and thousands of people,” she recalled. “It was an EVENT."
A few years ago she got back on skis for the first time since high school and has been a regular at Sugarloaf ever since. She’ll sit this season out due to a recent rotator cuff surgery, the consequence of an enthusiastic embrace of Crossfit. She’s hiked Katahdin three times and is working her way through the New Hampshire and Maine's 4,000 footers. She said she has a hard time sitting still. “I love buying books, and I’ve started reading many of them,” she laughed.