When Ida Baker teacher Steve Thorpe arrived for work Monday morning, it was a special day of sorts, though he was not ready for the warm welcome he received from students and teachers alike.
This was Thorpe’s first day back teaching Exceptional Student Education after 10 months in Saudi Arabia working a security mission for the Army Reserve.
Assist Principal of Curriculum Virginia Ramos called Thorpe to pick up a set of keys for the school, a normal request, he thought, but boy was he surprised when she brought him around to the main hallway of the school where he was greeted by a giant “welcome home” banner with students and faculty cheering and applauding to show their appreciation for his service.
“It was really cool. Just amazing,” Thorpe said of the show of support. “The band was playing, the JROTC kids were saluting, it was just awesome.”
Thorpe has been a member of the active reserve for the last 13 years as a military police officer and just got back to the states two weeks ago.
His wife of eight years and two sons, ages 7 and 5, are what he said he missed the most while serving his country.
“When you get the call, there’s a time frame they lay out for you on how long you’ll be gone. It’s a countdown of when you’ll get back once we get the word, and you hope and pray for no extensions,” he said.
His life, as he said, got put on pause while he was gone, while everyone else’s went on, another hardship he had to deal with on top of his military service.
Now, he’s ready to get back to work doing what he loves — teaching.
“The kids are the reason I do what I do,” he said of his position at Ida Baker, where he is also the wrestling team’s head coach. “Just to even see them (Monday morning) was a blessing in itself.”
Thorpe said he stayed connected with the wrestling team the whole time he was away from the school, getting onto the internet as he could to touch base.
“I’ve always wanted to help people. My family has a history of public service,” Thorpe said. “I love being a role model for kids, and that comes from being a teacher and my service through the Army Reserve.”
The 32-year-old also helps with English and math courses at Ida Baker, a place where he’s now entering his second school year.
“I help out with everything I can,” he said.
That help is certainly appreciated by the administration at Ida Baker based on their “rally” of sorts to welcome home their colleague.
“I had no idea that many people had the respect for what I did,” Thorpe said.
Ida Baker Principal Jami Covert is thrilled to have Thorpe back at the school where he plays a vital role in student education.
“Mr. Thorpe is truly an asset to our school and community,” she said. “Not only are we thankful for his service, but also for his work with students that prepares them for success throughout their high school career and beyond. It certainly was a pleasure welcoming him back home, rejoining his Bulldog family.”
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