Samantha C. Thompson
Associate Director of Early Learning Policy
Samantha C. Thompson (she/her/hers) is the Associate Director of Early Learning Policy at The Education Trust—West. Samantha served as the Early Education Program Manager and was a member of the Leadership Team for the Merced County Office of Education – Early Education Department for more than 14 years. Her oversight included a variety of state and federal funded programs to support the county’s early learning community, specifically, Centralized Eligibility List, Local Child Care and Development Planning Council, Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Grant, California’s Quality Counts (Quality Rating Improvement System), and a local initiative funded by Merced County First 5 Commission, “Caring for Our Black Children,” a dual-capacity building program to promote culturally responsive practices in early learning settings which are responsive to the needs of African American children, while also supporting parents/caregivers in modeling and teaching practices that honor the history and tradition of the African American culture.
Samantha has been a member of many child development associations, serving on their public policy committees. She was the California Child Care Coordinators Association Co-Chair from 2016-2018. And, with great honor, she served on School Site Councils at the elementary, middle, and high school levels for Merced City School Districts for over ten years (often for more than one school at a time.) She is a 2018-19 Fellow of the California Education Policy Fellowship Program. Samantha also served as Adjunct Faculty in the Business Division at Merced College for over ten years, teaching in the very classroom she once sat in as a student.
Samantha holds an Associate of Arts degree in Paralegal Studies from Merced College, a Bachelors of Sciences degree in Human Services, and a Master of Business Administration from University of Phoenix.
As a bi-racial child, she was raised in a home where one culture was not promoted over another, with an emphasis on values such as education, hard work, self-discipline, honesty, integrity, and ambition. She has carried these values into her professional life as an advocate for ensuring systems and programs are rooted in equitable, diverse, and inclusive practices, especially for children of color. Samantha believes that, while education was once seen as the great equalizer, now more than ever, we have a moral imperative to ensure educational experiences meet the unique and diverse needs of the students in our systems, especially for our youngest learners who are growing up with unprecedented challenges.
And, while educational equity is Samantha’s passion, her greatest love is her family as wife to Herschel and mother to Alexis and Desmond.