Bessie Gates Kidder Thomas

Woodstock Historical Society
Woodstock Historical Society

Time Period

1910-1940

Subject Categories

Education

Notable Facts

First female principal of Woodstock High School (1918-1932). Continued to teach at the school until 1948.

Personal Information

Date of Birth

05/10/1886

Date of Death

01/23/1965

Primary Residence

Woodstock

Historical Significance

Bessie Gates Kidder Thomas was the first female principal of Woodstock High School (1918-1932).

Thomas was from a socially prominent family in Woodstock, Vermont and attended Woodstock High School. She graduated from Wellesley College in 1909 with a degree in French and returned to Woodstock to become a high school French and mathematics teacher. In 1914 she married Leroy Eugene Thomas. For many women in this time period, getting married would have meant giving up your job, but women in Woodstock were permitted to continue teaching. Thomas was appointed principal of Woodstock High School in 1918 and was in charge of seven faculty members and 150 students. She was so successful in her position that the town also appointed her as district superintendent in 1923, a role she held for six years. Thomas stepped down from being principal in 1932, but continued to teach at the high school until 1948, when she officially retired. She had remained active in her own education, taking classes at the University of Vermont and Columbia University's Teachers College. Thomas was a member of the Vermont Teacher's Association, and even served as its President. She died in January 1965 at the age of 79.

Organizations or Movements

  • Vermont Teachers Association

Occupations

  • Teacher
  • Principal
  • Superintendent

Education

  • Woodstock High School (1905)
  • Wellesley College (1909)
  • Columbia University's Teachers College

Additional Information (Bibliography)

  • Rousmaniere, Kate. "Bessie Gates Kidder Thomas."