Thomas H. Watts

Thomas H. Watts began teaching in 1959 as a part of the San Diego City Schools and San Diego State University’s Internship Teaching Program. During his teaching career he taught elementary and middle school sciences and held tightly to the philosophy that “In order to know the children, the teacher must have an understanding of the community in which they live—and the teacher must become a part of that community.” And, so he was. In 1962 Thomas founded the Elementary Institute of Science (EIS) in order to stimulate an ongoing appreciation of science and technology and nurture the intellectual curiosity of San Diego’s young people. The program was designed to provide hands-on learning experiences to students while challenging them to explore their world and allowing them an opportunity to develop the skills necessary for success. Growing from approximately 260 students in 1999 to nearly 700 students in 2004, the program has been acclaimed by such national leaders as Dr. John B. Slaughter, former Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and Dr. Jonas Salk, an American physician and researcher best known for the development of the first successful polio vaccine. Mr. Watts, a remarkable leader in education, was a beloved and dedicated teacher and an inspiring visionary whose work continues to live on.