The DEIJ Jedi Master: Mr. David Thompson, Jr.

The Director of DEIJ departs for a new job after 10 years at The Bishop’s School


Cathy Morrison

Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Mr. David Thompson greeted Presiding Bishop Michael Curry at the All-School Christmas Chapel on December 9th, 2022.

It’s hard to imagine Bishop’s today without Mr. David Thompson, Jr. and his passion for helping those around him. Nestled in the student center, his office has become many students’ destination of choice for reliable conversation and unrivaled snacks. Although Mr. Thompson will depart the School for a new opportunity in July after a decade-long teaching and counseling career at Bishop’s, Mr. Thompson has endless appreciation for the School community and fond memories of his work as both a College Counselor and the Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice. 

 It was the fall of 2013 when Mr. Thompson started his first day on campus. Almost immediately, Mr. Thompson liked that Bishop’s “leads with values that champions diversity and cares a lot about the academic and intellectual rigor,” he noted. “What I’ve loved about Bishop’s is that, for the most part, this community is filled with happy, curious students who want to be kind to one another — and that is so special,” he continued.

Mr. Thompson believes that Bishop’s families have the opportunity to choose what type of environment their students learn and grow up in. “This place is, especially for San Diego, like lightning in a bottle,” he said.

Many view Mr. Thompson as an ingrained part of Bishop’s — similarly, Mr. Thompson has also come to feel like Bishop’s is part of him. Most milestones in my life throughout the past ten years has been either because of Bishop’s or because of someone from Bishop’s that has been alongside me,” he said. “When my father passed away, it was the Bishop’ s community that took care of me, that checked in on me. When we entered into the pandemic, and I was living alone, worried about every person in the world, it was Bishop’s where I wanted to be.” 

Early on, Mr. Thompson began thinking about how Bishop’s community members could talk about bigger global issues, knowing that we might vote or live differently. While he always had ideas and approaches in mind, and had already organized monthly speaker opportunities, it wasn’t until the start of the pandemic when there became an allocated block of time for DEIJ. Alongside Performing Arts Director Ms. Lara Korneychuck, Previous History Teacher Mr. Raul Ruiz, World Languages Teacher Profe Carlos Martell, and Sixth Grade Teacher Ms. Mary Ellen Kholman, Mr. Thompson launched the first DEIJ blocks for both middle and upper school. 

“This was all during the pandemic, which was super hard. And, again, we were running into this really contentious election,” Mr. Thompson explained. “This perfect storm of moments, and if we weren’t going to find time to talk about it then, we never would. And it’s been imperfect and an evolving process ever since.” 

Bishop’s DEIJ program has three parts: the community experience, the classroom interaction, and the co-curricular piece. Mr. Thompson explained that Community experience part is what everyone goes through, from speakers to dedicated value-aligning moments, like Well-Being Block activities; the Classroom part focuses on everything from “the range of authors that we are looking at in our English class” to “how we talk about revolutions in countries that are very small or have been colonized” to “who we’re thinking of when we think of prominent people to feature in the STEM fields,” he explained. In regards to co-curricular logistics, Mr. Thompson has worked with advisory boards, the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) Student Diversity Leadership Conference (SDLC) and other organizations outside of the classroom that explore who we are as individuals and how we grow. 

A central quality that makes Mr. Thompson so popular amongst students is his openness. “He always finds a way to connect with other people and that’s what makes him very loved by the campus,” said Shea Rueda (‘23), who views Mr. Thompson as a close mentor on campus. “I think most people, from all groups and backgrounds, can attest to the fact that they’re able to come up and have a conversation with him.” Raynall Thornton (‘23), who knew Mr. Thompson as a teacher, college counselor, sponsor of the Black Student Union (BSU), and advisor, added, “He is such an easy going, intelligent, and outgoing person that has everyone’s best interest at heart. He has always been there to help me navigate through certain struggles in school and always creates time in his schedule for others.” 

“He’s just really tuned in to the students, and that’s his favorite part of the job,” Math Teacher Ms. Jennifer Seymour remarked. “He just is a magnet for kids. Every time I’m having a meeting with him in his office, if I’m there for 70 minutes, he probably has ten different kids come by and knock on the door or pop in and want to say hi.” Associate Director of College Counseling Mr. AJ Jezierski, who views Mr. Thompson as one of his best friends, also described him as a welcoming presence: “He has the ability to create community and to create space for students, regardless of what grade they are, how old they are, what they come from, and what perspectives they have.” 

And most definitely, the students and people Mr. Thompson interacts with daily are his favorite parts of his job as an educator.

I love that everyday, I’m a part of a conversation where someone is figuring out something about the world for the first time. Every single day, I get to witness that… and that is for me, like magic.

— Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Mr. David Thompson

Mr. Thompson also leads many extracurricular organizations on campus, such as BSU and the Regional Student Diversity Summit (RSDS). When referencing BSU, he noted, “I think part of the work of leading an affinity group as an advisor is letting the students who are in control of that space or facilities determine how we use that time, and it’s my job to support what they would like to see.” 

When explaining his departure decision, Mr. Thompson said, “What I’ve learned is that sometimes we get into this moment where what we want is a deeper challenge.” Though he wasn’t originally looking to leave his current job, his graduate school cohort encouraged him to be ready if the right next step came up. It did, in the form of being the next Director of Equity and Inclusion at Trinity School in New York City. 

Mr. Thompson has worked with both Trinity School’s former Director of Equity and Inclusion and current Chaplain. “It’s a really cool Episcopal school that lives into its values, in a cool part of New York City right by Central Park, with many of the same great qualities as Bishop’s,” he said. “I really do love Bishop’s,” Mr. Thompson said, and he hopes that this community knows that he loves Bishop’s because it, including all of the students, has helped him become the person that he is today. 

“I have a full 100 hour scope and sequence that I have been cultivating [for DEIJ] — [Associate Head of School] Mr. [Michael] Beamer refers to it as my grand Opus,” he joked. This plan begins in sixth grade and goes all the way through senior year; the next school year will be the first year that Mr. Thompson hopes to test it. Along with this outlined plan are a glossary of terms and some additional resources. “I don’t expect it to be perfect, but it outlines so much of what we’ve already done… and once the new person comes in, it’ll be their job to color it in.” Handing over a blank yet structured coloring book, he is excited to see what the new year brings for Bishop’s as a whole. 

There is no doubt that Bishop’s will miss Mr. Thompson in every shape and form. However, the relationships he has made with fellow Bishopians and his legacy in DEIJ will be everlasting. “The work that he’s done here at Bishop’s is not going to be short lived,” said Mr. Jezierski. “I’m excited for him to have a new adventure and to continue growing professionally in the role that he has.” 

Lastly, Mr. Thompson reflected, “I will miss knowing that I am surrounded by a community that has allowed me to be vulnerable and grow into the person I am meant to be.”