Americas Director and Education Chair: Sarah Thomas

How did you become a greenlight girl and why?

Melissa, our founder, sent an e-mail to people she thought would be interested in such a venture. Her comments about reaching out to girls resonated with me because I wanted to be a research scientist when I was younger, but I was not encouraged because I struggled in math. I think greenlight for girls has the opportunity to encourage girls to pursue their dreams, regardless of the difficulties that may arise.

Since you are the education chair what do you notice about the education in the US and what advice would you give to teachers not only in the Americas but all over the world. 

 I don't presume that I know everything about education, but having taught for 12-plus years, I think teachers are one of the first lines of defense when it comes to fostering students' interest in particular subjects. A teacher who is passionate about something can easily pass on that enthusiasm and passion to her students, and this could trigger a desire to pursue the field further. I am also encouraged that more and more schools are seeing the benefits of doing hands-on activities, but I would like teachers in the districts that use high stakes testing, be given more autonomy to do so. I think the Chinese proverb “I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand” is particularly relevant when it comes to education.

What is your favorite form of science?

Would have to be biology. I love reading about it, especially anything to do with medicine.

What is you favorite science related tv show or book?

My favorite science radio show is Talk of the Nation Science Fridays on National Public Radio. I also enjoy Innovation Hub, which is on my local National Public Radio Station.

Describe greenlight for girls in one word


Any advice for the young girls out there?

If you find something you love, stick with it. Don’t be afraid to pursue your dreams because doing what you love is what makes us happy.

Finally, if you were a crayon what color would you be? 

Purple because I am passionate about what I believe in!

I hear that you have just received your Doctorate.  Can you tell me about this?

Well, it’s not official as it will be conferred in May and I have some changes to make, but the research has been approved and I am extremely excited. My research revolved around the influence an overseas teaching experience has on teaching decisions when teachers return to their home country. As it was a mixed methods design, I was able look at statistics as well as interview and observe teachers, which is an interest of mine because I enjoy qualitative research. It was fascinating to speak to teachers who have taught elsewhere and took what they learned and brought it with them when they returned home. Interestingly, most teachers reported the experience provided them with more cultural empathy and the ability to “think on the fly” when teaching. For me, the growth in cultural empathy is extremely relevant to today’s “melting pot” of U.S. schools because teachers are working with students from all walks of life, and to be able to provide these students a voice will give them comfort and make learning much easier for them.

See Sarah on LinkedIn or send Sarah an email.