Rhema Thompson

Reporter/Producer

Rhema Thompson began her post at WJCT on a very cold day in January 2014 and left WJCT to join the team at The Florida Times Union in December 2014.

She has been in the news industry for more than six years, working in both broadcast and print. She received her master's degree in broadcast from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She received her bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Connecticut and is a Husky for life.

Before joining the WJCT team, she served as education reporter for the Pensacola News Journal. Over the course of her career, she has produced for CBS News and covered crime, courts, arts and entertainment for several publications including The Newport Daily News, The Hartford Courant and The New York Daily News.

Ways to Connect

Rhema Thompson / WJCT News

  In Katherine Stallings’ room, the lights are dim. A large blue table with four small chairs takes up most of the little space, along with several book shelves, pictures and a large stuffed butterfly. But it doesn’t feel cramped. It feels cozy, like the kind of place someone might want to curl up with a blanket and a book.

As she enters the room, Stallings instructs her class of four to get up and stretch.

“Touch your toes,” she tells them. “Touch your nose. Take a deep breath, bend through your mouth.”

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office

An Eastside man has been charged with the Christmas Day murder of his girlfriend.

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office arrested 24-year-old Breon Leondre Fussell in the death of his girlfriend Shannon Woods, 22.

Fussell was arrested around 8 p.m. Thursday, shortly after police found Woods shot dead in his backyard in the 1000 block of East 12th Street.

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office

The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office has arrested the man shot in the leg by an officer during a burglary early Wednesday morning.

Twenty-seven-year old Michael Kevin Hollis is charged with burglary, weapons possession and resisting arrest without violence after breaking into Gate Liquors off Lem Turner Road.

JSO Investigations Director Tom Hackney says responding Officer Steve Coleman shot Hollis as he was attempting to take two rifles from the business.

Before shooting, Coleman ordered Hollis to get on the ground repeatedly, Hackney says.

Rhema Thompson / WJCT

Teaching is a journey, but it hasn't been a pleasant one for everyone.

Recently, the inaugural class of the Jacksonville Teacher Residency (JTR) program had its final meeting of 2014. The end-of-semester meeting had fewer teachers than the beginning of the school year. In the final installment of "Life Lessons" for the year, WJCT takes a look at the stories behind the two residents whose forays into teaching were cut short.

A strong start

The day William Bowman got the offer to join the Jacksonville Teacher Residency program, he was ecstatic.

Rhema Thompson

There’s something universally jarring about the sound of shackles. It’s slow and, while high-pitched, carries a timbre of gloom.

It’s especially unnerving when those shackles are chained to the feet and arms of a slight, young man, like the one who stood in front of an audience on a recent evening.

“At the end of the day, y’all are going home. I’m still locked up,” he told the group of young men sitting before him.

His words were quiet, but he had their full attention.

Duval Schools

A plan by the Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti to change magnet designations for five schools has been met with mixed reactions this week. WJCT went to one of the community meetings where the plan was vetted.

On Tuesday, Vitti spoke to parents and teachers at Butler Young Men and Women's Leadership Academy, one of the schools at the center of the changes. The struggling F school was recently transformed into the district's first gender-based traditional public school.

Rhema Thompson

More high school students graduated in Duval County in 2014 than ever before, newly released state data shows.

Rhema Thompson

The Florida Department of Health in Duval County is currently investigating a local high school after a student at the school was hospitalized for tuberculosis.

Officials at the health department said they will evaluate about 150 students and staff at William Raines High School who were potentially exposed to the disease after a student began exhibiting symptoms.

Pixabay

Controversial data on Florida’s school teachers are now public after a legal battle last year. 

Rhema Thompson

The inaugural class of Jacksonville’s teacher residency program had its final meeting of the year Thursday.

The group is part of the privately funded Jacksonville Teacher Residency program, designed to recruit and retain high-performing STEM professionals to teach in the district’s toughest schools. WJCT first met the class of professionals in June when days spent in classrooms and nights of lesson-planning seemed far and away. Now it’s a daily reality with real obstacles.

Meet Our Two Featured Teachers

Name: George Jeffrey Teuber

Rhema Thompson

Nearly half of Duval County residents consider test scores and school grades to be the most important factor when deciding on a school, but the majority say they don't know very much about either, according to a recently released local poll.

Jacksonville Public Education Fund (JPEF) unveiled results from its second annual Education Perceptions Poll Wednesday morning.

Rhema Thompson

Kedrick Brown knows what can happen when you don’t pass Florida’s statewide exams by senior year.

“My brother was one of them and he stressed it to me enough all the time,” he standing in class on a recent morning. “He always told me that you know, you should focus all the time because he wishes he could go back and take it and now he has to get his GED and all this stuff.

Cyd Hoskinson

After months of discussion, the Duval County School Board approved the plan to turnaround the district’s struggling middle schools.

Board members voted unanimously to approve the highly-touted middle school reform plan.

“A lot of times, the kids get lost in middle school so part of this is individualizing the kids, making them feel like someone really cares about them,” School Board Chairwoman Grymes said.  “It’s a tough time for kids. Middle school kids are very confused.”

National Council on Teacher Quality

An error in a recently released study on teacher earnings placed Duval County Public Schools 10 spots higher than it should have been, the study’s researchers now say.

The “Smart Money” report released last week by the National Council on Teacher Quality ranked Duval County among the lowest of the nation’s largest districts: 98 out of 125.

However, researchers later discovered the ranking wasn’t low enough. The district actually ranks 108, according to Nancy Waymack, managing director of district policy. 

Rhema Thompson

Twenty-six Duval County high school students were at Jacksonville University Thursday afternoon to cap of their final day in a special course aimed at tackling issues of perceptions, community and the justice system.

The course, entitled Media and Crime, was developed three years ago by JU Sociology Professor Shelley Grant.

In the wake of high-profile cases of slain youths Michael Brown and Tamir Rice, it takes on a new kind of relevance.

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