Tom Clarkson: King second grade teacher


Tom Clarkson teaching fractions to his second grade class at King Elementary.
Tom Clarkson teaching fractions to his second grade class at King Elementary.

Teaching is in the blood for King Elementary’s Tom Clarkson.  His second grade classroom includes several school books that his grandmother used in the early 1900’s as a teacher in an Ontario one-room school.

Clarkson grew up in Southfield, Michigan and earned an Elementary Education degree from the University of Michigan and then a Masters Degree focusing on Children with Special Needs from Eastern Michigan University.

He currently lives in Novi with his wife Kelly, a manager in the IT Department at Henry Ford Hospital.  His daughter works for St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor and his son will graduate this week with a degree in packaging from Michigan State University.

What led you to a career in teaching and specifically focusing on elementary aged students?  In my mind, almost every teacher would say that they love kids and want to be there to help them. In that way, I’m no different than any of the others. I truly love children and want to help them, whether it’s with academics, social skills, or whatever. I chose elementary education as my focus because I never liked going to school as a child and I didn’t want children to feel the same way. I try to have fun everyday in the room, by cracking jokes and making sure they laugh as they learn. I know school is a key for future success and that they’ll be there for a minimum of 13 years. So, why not enjoy at least 13 years of your life?

How long have you been teaching in Ann Arbor Public Schools and have you taught elsewhere?  My entire 27 years of teaching has been in Ann Arbor at the same school, King, in the same room, and in the same grade, 2nd. To say I love it is an understatement! I’m already looking forward to year 28!

What are key qualities for a good teacher to have?  A teacher has to be caring, motivated, and able to multitask.

What advice would you give to students considering becoming a teacher or someone just entering the profession?  Keep going to school, work hard, and enjoy it! There’s no better profession as far as I’m concerned!

Are there any teachers you consider mentors that helped when you first started teaching? Yes, my retired colleague and friend, Cheryl Jones. She retired some years ago, but was my true “buddy” at King. I hear she’s upset with me because I haven’t had lunch with her in awhile. So, I’ll have to get on that.

What’s one of your most memorable moments or funniest things that has happened in your classroom?  Well, there are lots of “funny” things that go on in a classroom every day. As you know, kids say and do the funniest things. But what’s “funny/interesting” now is that because I’ve been teaching so long, my former students are now adults. In fact, my current pre-student teacher was a student of mine! Now, my former students are doctors, lawyers, teachers, and being productive members of society. It’s quite amazing and touching!

What do you do in your free-time to recharge and relax?  I love to be with my family whether it’s on vacation or not. Going out to dinner with them is also awesome. If I’m not doing those things, I’m playing tennis or watching sports. I love sports!

– Andrew Cluley

AAPS District News

Tom Clarkson strives to make sure students laugh as they learn.
Tom Clarkson strives to make sure students laugh as they learn.

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  1. We are very blessed that all three of our children have had Mr. CLarkson as a teacher. He truly loves teaching and his kids and it shows. AAPS is lucky to have him and so is King Elementary!

  2. We’ve had kids at King for over 20 years (and still do!!!) and have really enjoyed getting to know Tom. Too many memories to write here, but Tom is an outstanding teacher and man! Thanks for your dedication, enthusiasm and hard work!!!

  3. We have recently moved from England and our daughter just loves his style of teaching! He is relaxed and chilled classroom teaching method has made my daughters adjustment into this system very smooth! I am glad to have chosen Kings but I am grateful for Ms Cooper for assigning her to his class!

  4. Both my boys were so lucky to have Mr. C as their 2nd grade teacher. He is such a great role model of being a loving and caring teacher. They will never forget him and neither will I. Congrats, Tom on 27 wonderful years at King!

  5. Mr.Clarkson is a wonderful teacher and Avery wonderful human being…..I feel very blessed for my son in this class.His way of approaching children not only shows his genuine passion for teaching but also shows his true affection towards them……Congrats Mr.C and also wish you good luck for your future years……

  6. Our oldest son was in Mr. Clarkson’s class and I can only hope that my younger sons have Tom when they get to second grade. He is unfailingly kind and gentle with the children and does an amazing job teaching the children in his class. He always goes the extra mile to help and provide a wonderful role model to his students. King is lucky to have him!

  7. Our family has so many found memories of Mr. C from his quotes of the day, to science projects, book reports and of course, the jokes. He sets the bar high and works to ensure that each student gets there. Thanks Mr. C for what you’ve done for so many.

  8. Tom Clarkson is joined by an extraordinary team of outstanding teachers at King School. A big congratulations to you Tom, on your many outstanding years teaching kids in our district and on your son’s graduation from MSU. Our daughter graduates from MSU this weekend too – and your former student, Tyler, graduates from Huron in June — another school with outstanding teachers! We salute you and appreciate all that you and your colleagues have done for our now-adult “kids!” Thank you. Sincerely, Kris Palmer

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