Thompson is Band Coordinator at Burger Middle School. Eighth grader Ian Colbert nominated him for a Golden Apple Award. But there's another reason why students think Mr. Thompson is cool- he is a distinguished jazz drummer.
"He's really energetic. When someone doesn't get a part in their music, he pulls out an instrument and plays their part," Colbert said.
"I think having teachers with the resume Rich has gives, like Ian talked about, the feedback they can give; they can help kids understand the parts and really the bigger part of what music can mean to their lives and enrich them for the rest of their lives. So it's great," principal Greg Lane said.
"I always tell my band kids that when you get older and you go for a job interview, it will seem like nothing compared to playing a solo in front of your peers," Thompson said.
Rich has been keeping the beat at Burger for almost three decades, all while touring and playing his own music all over the world.
"Why do you keep coming back," I asked him.
"For these kids. Because of what they can do; and I'm a musician and it's fun to watch these kids grow and learn the craft," he replied.
Read Ian's letter to us below: