Former Target Business Executive Shifts to Education and Get’s Involved with EMU COE’s Kappa Delta Pi

A photo of Stanley Thomas.
Stanley Thomas
A photo of Stanley Thomas.

Stanley Thomas

By Rachel Renou, COE Grad Assistant | Published September 23, 2020

It is not uncommon for one’s path to shift directions more than once in their life. For former Target Executive, Thomas Stanley, an increasing desire to teach brought about a shift that would bring him right back to Eastern Michigan University after having left 25 years earlier. After years of working as an in-store executive and at the corporate location in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Stanley was inspired to change direction and finally become the teacher he once hoped to be.

Thomas Stanley was originally pursuing a degree in elementary education within the COE at EMU when he was given the opportunity to hold a leadership position at Target. Seeing the amazing experience ahead of him, Stanley accepted and began a successful career in business management. While working in-store as an “executive team leader” in Atlanta, Georgia Stanley saw for himself how much responsibility one holds leading a team of 150-200 diverse individuals. It was in such a diverse community with people from all walks of life that he learned how much he enjoyed working with people and helping local youth develop professionally.

Stanley then went on to work at Target’s Headquarters in Minneapolis as a Regional Business Partner in the entertainment division (music, movies, and books). His region covered the southern part of the United States including Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Alabama, and parts of Florida.

“My job was to ensure the stores had the product they needed, and the entertainment companies were satisfied with the level of service they paid for. I would attend large music festivals, conferences in Las Vegas, Atlanta, and New York, and work with artists that were promoting a new project. It was a very fun, fast paced, and highly stressful environment. I enjoyed every aspect of it…” (Stanley).

Although Stanley enjoyed his fast paced career, he always made time for his son Hayden. Stanley was extremely involved in volunteering for school field trips, attending PTA events, and becoming the President of the Diamond Club Baseball Boosters. This role as President led him into joining the coaching staff at his son’s high school.

“Working with these young men sparked the flame that I once had about becoming a teacher. My time with Target exposed me to the many problems that students faced in a large city school system… Working with my team at Target and the young men on the baseball team awoke my passion to become a teacher,” (Stanley).

The final push to go back to school was when Stanley’s younger brother lost his battle to cancer after nine months of first hearing the news. This tragic loss made Stanley examine many life choices. When thinking about what he wanted to do with the rest of his life he thought “tomorrow is not guaranteed. I didn’t want to look back on my life with any regret...With the encouragement of my family and friends I took a leap of faith,” (Stanley).

In the Fall of 2019 Stanley started pursuing a Post Baccalaureate Program Teacher Certification in Social Studies at EMU. Since returning, he has been very actively involved in the COE. One way Stanley has been involved was joining the educational fraternity, Kappa Delta Pi.

“From day one Dr. Beth Johnson, Kathy Walsh, and the chapter members of EMU have been wonderful and very supportive. I was nervous about joining since I was twice the age of most members, but age didn’t matter the least. I’ve enjoyed the meetings, socials, and volunteer events,” (Stanley)

When Covid-19 hit and changed the landscape of education it altered how organizations and students interacted. Stanley spoke with the chapter advisors and offered to help KDP in a greater capacity. With his past experience in leadership and management Stanley felt comfortable running for chapter president. “I don’t have all the answers and really don’t know what tomorrow has in store… but the skills and leadership tools gained during my time with Target will aid me and our chapter as we continue to move forward,” (Stanley). He also mentions that he has the opportunity to work with a ‘top-notch’ executive board that is excited to meet the needs of their chapter members. Stanley looks forward to what the future has in store for these amazing young men and women.

As Stanley continues his degree at EMU he also looks forward to finally being equipped with the opportunity to directly help students. He especially feels supported in this endeavor because he knows it takes a collective group of passionate educators to impact student’s lives.

“My time in management has taught me many valuable lessons, but one of the more important lessons I've learned was the importance of networking. I have met many wonderful administrators, professors, and peers during my time at Eastern. Having the wisdom to connect with others has a lasting impact and reach long after I leave school.”

It is no surprise that after working for a major company, he has returned with a new appreciation for teamwork. His past experience brings a new perspective to the classroom and those around him. The COE community welcomes Stanley and is excited to see what he will accomplish as an educator and KDP President.

About The College of Education at Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, The College of Education (COE) at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) continues to be one of the largest producers of educational personnel in the nation. The COE includes a comprehensive variety of programs at the bachelor, master and doctoral program level. Non-degree and certifications are also offered through the COE as well. The COE includes departments for teacher education, special education, and leadership & counseling. All of the professional education programs offered by EMU’s COE are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and are also approved by the Michigan Department of Education (MDE). The graduates the EMU produces are highly desired in the field, due to the strong reputation the COE has earned throughout their many established years. The COE has been recognized for its strong success rate by U.S. News and World Report’s: America’s Best Colleges.