Ephraim author sharing his experiences with young people
By Lauren Evans
EPHRAIM—As a teacher in Sanpete County, Reed Thomas never imagined his 37 year teaching career would result in writing two books. His unique experience with students inspired him to write about how they changed each other’s lives, and now he’s sharing his stories with the students of Utah and Oklahoma.
After graduating from North Sanpete High School, Reed Thomas went on to earn a Bachelor’s at Utah State University and a Master’s degree at Northern Arizona University. He worked as an educator in California and Nevada until returning to Utah.
Thomas was asked to return to North Sanpete High School to teach in 1975. The school had a group of students struggling to finish school or find motivation. When discussing his decision to return to Sanpete County, Thomas said, “I was a disengaged student myself in high school, but a caring adult became my role model and turned my life around. I wanted to be that person for these students.” His goal was to help change the lives of unmotivated students that were heading in the wrong direction with their school careers. His solution was a high school rodeo team.
Thomas worked with students and the rodeo team, nicknamed the Sidekicks, for years at the high school. The program not only motivated students to pass their classes, but it also encouraged them to change their lives.
It was these students who inspired Thomas to write his first book, Sidekicks. The book is a collection of stories about life lessons these students learned under the guidance of Thomas.
Sidekicks was published in July 2016 after three years of writing. Shortly after the book’s publication, Reed Thomas was approached by a young man. Thomas didn’t immediately recognize the man, but after a brief introduction the young man told Thomas that he saved his life as a young boy. Because of Thomas’s influence, the young man had decided against taking his own life. This confession struck Thomas into inspiration of writing another book.
Thomas’s second book, Sidekicks Challenger: 21 Life-Changing Challenges to Empower Teens, written in collaboration with Nadine Matis, is an interactive extension on the lessons learned by the sidekicks. This book is also the guideline for Thomas’s new school presentation material.
With two successful books under his belt, Thomas is now planning on taking these tips on the road for teens. Thomas will be traveling to schools in Utah and Oklahoma to present Tips for Teens, his 45 minutes motivational presentation. The presentation will be to present teens with 7 of Thomas’s 21 life-changing challenges to empower them.
Thomas is also hoping to collaborate with local schools to use his books as a fundraiser for clubs and activities. “I’ve had some golden years being retired from being an educator, but now I have this urge to go back in, so that’s what I’m doing,” he said.
Thomas’s first presentation with be at a local school in Sanpete county this Friday. He will continue to tour Utah and Oklahoma this spring.