One of nine children of an ironworker and a homemaker, Tommie grew up in Oakland, California and was raised by his grandmother after his parents died. From her, Tommie learned about the importance of family bonds, which is a value he considers central to his decision to become a teacher.
True to his goal, after high school graduation, Tommie attended the University of San Francisco, where he graduated valedictorian and with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communication Arts and Social Science. Later, he earned his Secondary Teaching Credential from USF and received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of San Francisco for his “Visionary Leadership.”
When Tommie arrived at Logan High school in 1988, there was no program in forensics, so he created one. In his first year, the program had 13 students in the program. Currently enrollment has reached close to 250 students for several successive school years. While only about 40% of Logan High’s graduating classes typically attend college, the acceptance rate among forensic team members is 90%.
The Logan Forensic teams have won innumerable State and National Forensics Championships and Tommie has been selected for State and National Awards, including California Teacher of the Year, the Oprah Winfrey Angel Award, National Forensic League Coach of the Year and most recently was inducted into the National Speech and Debate Association Hall of Fame.
Tommie was also featured in the PBS Documentary “Accidental Hero – Room 408-“ and in 2004 was a recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship given to individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.