Community Arts Partner

Participant Details

Community Arts Partner Name
Jay Aquinas Thompson
Partner Type
Profile Photo
Individual Bio or
Organizational Statement
Jay Aquinas Thompson is a Seattle poet and educator with nine years' experience teaching creative writing to youth and adults. Jay has taught elementary and middle school students, youth and adults in psychiatric care, adults transitioning out of homelessness, and incarcerated women. His lessons encourage writers to build conceptual bridges to other subjects, reflect on their lives, and discover the joy of language. Jay is experienced with digital learning platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Schoology, Google Classroom, and Seesaw, providing synchronous teaching, pre-recorded video lessons, and teacher-friendly creative writing lesson plans and curricula. Jay's video lesson "My Legacy" was widely taught in K-5 classrooms after COVID-related closures. Jay is a graduate of the Teaching Artist Training Lab. He has earned a B.A. (English; Phi Beta Kappa) from the University of Washington, and an M.F.A. (poetry) from Washington University in St. Louis. Jay's poetry has been published in Poetry Northwest, Denver Quarterly, Jubilat, Poetry International, Fourteen Hills and other journals. He is the recipient of a Sustainable Arts fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center, and an award in pedagogy from the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP). For his teaching work in King County Jail, he's been awarded a grant from King County 4Culture and was profiled in the Seattle Times Pacific NW magazine.

Contact Information

First Name
Last Name
2206 18th Ave S
Address 2
(206) 228-3965

Grade Levels Preferred

Grade Levels Preferred
K-2, 3rd - 5th, 6th - 8th, 9th - 12th

Artistic Disciplines

Poetry Personal narrative Creative writing-based arts integration into STEM fields Social-emotional learning through creative writing
Literary Art or Spoken Word/Performance Poetry


Previous School Partnerships
Lowell Elementary School (Seattle, WA) McClure Middle School (Seattle, WA) Youth education and art therapy program at Fairfax Behavioral Health Center (Kirkland, WA) Van Asselt Elementary [volunteer] (Seattle, WA)
Other Trainings or Certifications
Arts Impact, 2019: Professional development series on arts-infused classroom learning and brain-based teaching. Teaching Artist Training Lab (Ongoing PD), 2019: Creative approaches to classroom behavior and arts integration with Common Core science concepts. Seattle Public Schools, 2018-2019: Professional development series on student trauma and resilience and embodying the “warm demander” as a teacher. Writers in the Schools, 2018-2019: Ongoing professional development on curriculum development and text selection to empower marginalized students in the classroom. Creative Advantage Arts Partner Spring Workshop, 2018: Daylong session on the meaning of culture, relevant arts education, freedom in the classroom, and collective power. Creative Advantage Summer Institute, 2017: Day of breakout sessions on culturally-responsive arts education for social justice and on modeling vulnerability for struggling learners.
Sample Lesson Description: Student / Classroom Residencies
Grades K-2: The Magic in Our Special Places. The more we see, the more we love writing. In a two-session activity helping very young learners hone their powers of observation, students will use the five senses to describe in their notebooks a place special to them. We then brainstorm about types of magic: magical creatures, powers, or transformations. Students lastly add a magical element to the description of their special place, and use storytelling to resolve and integrate this magic. Also available as written lesson plan or pre-recorded video lesson. Grades 2-5: Poems from Our Names. Writing is about joy! In this first-day activity, students will create acrostic poems from their names. We study colored alphabets and silhouettes of actors and dancers to choose activities, shapes, and colors we associate with the letters of our names. We then create a sentence describing each letter of our names. Also available as written lesson plan or pre-recorded video lesson. Grades 6-8: Proverbs. How do we use figurative language? How do we get comfortable challenging "conventional wisdom"? This lesson examines traditional American proverbs. We interpret and discuss each, identifying uses of simile, metaphor, personification, and hyperbole. Students choose one they disagree with and make notes as to why; students then shape these notes into a poem, ending the poem with a new proverb of their own! Also available as written lesson plan or pre-recorded video lesson. Grades 9-12: Hunger & Thirst. Food is community, scarcity, culture, togetherness, awkwardness, and joy, often all at once. In a two-session social studies-integrated lesson to deepen students' cultural connections, students write a memory associated with food. After reading Natalie Diaz's "Why I Hate Raisins," describing the deprivations of a reservation childhood dependent on donated generic American foods, students examine the USDA's reservation food distribution and reflect on its possible limitations and shortfalls. As a conclusion, students write a "Why I Hate ___" or "Why I Love ___" poem of their own about a familiar object or food. Also available as written lesson plan or pre-recorded two-part video lesson.
Sample Workshop Description: Teacher Professional Development
Healing and Empowerment through Creative Writing How can we fulfill the liberatory and passionate promise of creative writing by creating classroom cultures that center healing and building student power? How can doing so open up writing for students who have previously never felt comfortable telling their own stories? How can teachers create a more authentic and heart-ful classroom culture? This workshop presents activities, best practices, and mentor texts for teachers looking to turn creative writing into a tool for freedom. Two 90-minute sessions.   Connecting Creative Writing and Science: The Art of Observation In a three-hour training, I present activities and theory connecting the close, sense-driven observation of detail that enlivens creative writing with the kinds of rigorous, objective observation demanded of scientists. I describe a journaling practice for students that will hone creative writing skills, which are then applied to ongoing lab or fieldwork in students' science curricula. Two 90-minute sessions.  

Areas of Experience and Expertise

Approved Professional Development Provider
Approved Classroom Residency Provider
Experience with English Language Learners
Experience with Students in Special Education

Teaching Approach

Teaching Philosophy + Approach
I believe that writing offers young people a chance to both challenge and strengthen themselves: to widen their own point of view and to tend their own dreams, hopes, and sorrows. In my teaching, I emphasize freedom, self-reflection, play, and encouragement. Much of my teaching work has been with youth and adults who have had limited access to education and little room given to their own voice. For this reason, I'm particularly drawn to work with young people from marginalized communities and who face multiple barriers to academic success. I plan with teachers from the beginning around student needs, learning styles, and cultural backgrounds, and schedule a mid-residency check-in meeting. My lessons complement the students' work in other subjects. I'm flexible in the classroom and bring creativity to classroom behavior. When possible, I build toward a culminating activity-- a publication or a performance--- and I'd be eager to plan this with the teacher as my partner. My activities are all adaptable to remote learning; my video lessons include activity, writing, and sharing breaks, and my written lesson plans are built with digital learning platforms in mind.  
Curriculum Integration Possibilities
I’m able to develop an integrated set of lessons with current student work in:
  • Literature
  • Social studies
  • Science
  • Visual art
  • Expressive arts (e.g. dance or theater)
While I can work in many formats, I have a strong background in arts-infused teaching (where a concept relevant to both writing and and integrated subject is presented with examples and activities drawn from both) to engage learners who may struggle with more traditional academic presentation of abstract material.
Special Skills and Areas of Expertise
I'm passionate about creating writing spaces that honor students' dignity, power, and journey into identity development. I have a strong background in integrating creative writing in Common Core-matched lessons in STEM fields and social studies. I have a background in facilitating conversations on race and racism, and have co-taught workshops in identifying and dismantling systemic oppression. As a white educator, I strive to model accountability and equity in my teaching. I'd be delighted to work with any teacher passionate about incorporating social justice themes into writing work. I'm comfortable working in Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Schoology, Seesaw, and Google Classrooms. I have two years' experience teaching English and SAT prep to English Language Learners. I also have a background in musical performance and theater that I'd love to incorporate into performance-centered writing prompts and activities.
Testimonials from Schools
Jennifer Fanning, 7th grade teacher at McClure Middle School: Melanie Noel, teacher and leader of Expressive Writing groups for youth and adults with psychiatric diagnoses: Jared Leising, co-teacher of Creative Writing & Life Skills for incarcerated women, professor at Cascadia College: More references available upon request.


My rate for teaching, prep, and teaching meeting time, and travel time is $60/hour. I'll track worked hours thoroughly and submit a detailed invoice. Prep time includes time spent reviewing student work, and generally occupies 45 additional minutes per 60 minutes of teaching. Pricing examples: A residency consisting of eight 60-minute sessions--- including two 1-hour teacher meetings, and four 1-hour trips to and from the school, 6 hours total of prep and commenting on student work, and an hour each guiding students in typing their work and a culminating performance--- is $1,320. A residency consisting of four 90-minute sessions--- including two 1-hour teacher meetings, and four 1-hour trips to and from the school, and 4 1/2 hours total of prep and commenting on student work--- is $990. A residency consisting of eight 90-minute sessions--- including three 1-hour teacher meetings, a 1-hour classroom visit before first session, 9 hours total of prep and commenting on student work, 8 hours total travel time, and a 2-hour culminating reading of student work--- is $2,100.


Image Description
teaching at Lowell Elementary
Image Description
co-teaching creative writing at King County Jail (from profile in Seattle Times' Pacific NW magazine)
Image Description
Image Description
Image Description


Video Description
An open letter to my students at Lowell Elementary and an interview with my brilliant student, John.
Video Description
Video Description