“You can never have too many photos. You can never have too many memories.”
That’s Sandra Thorpe’s philosophy, and one glance into her office at Swift Consolidated Elementary School makes it obvious.
The memories and photos are of her family, including her husband of 39 years, Allen, along with three children and eight grandchildren. Thorpe says she’s “deeply rooted” to her family, both immediate and extended, and enjoys every minute she gets to spend with them.
Bon Secour, Alabama has been Thorpe’s home for her entire life. Her father was a shrimper and she spent many summers working alongside him on the water. While some kids complain about their summer jobs, Thorpe has fond memories of shrimping with her dad and continued the practice until her father’s passing a few years ago.
Swift School has been a part of Thorpe’s life for as long as she can remember. She attended the school as a child. When it came time to begin her teaching career, she chose Swift, first serving as an aide before teaching second and third grade. For the past 11 years, she’s served as the school’s principal, following in the footsteps of her aunt who previously held the same position.
Meeting the needs of every student and teacher is challenging work, but Thorpe will tell you it’s also very rewarding. “I love watching the students learn and I make it a
point to learn every one of their names,” she says.
Thorpe shared her love of teaching with her three kids, who all entered the profession as adults. She also extends her passion for education to her grandkids. “I love reading to them. I love talking to them at the end of the day and asking them what they learned,” she says.
Although keeping up with the demands of being a school principal and a grandmother of eight takes up quite a bit of time, Thorpe and her husband take opportunities to travel. They’ve visited spots like Savannah, Georgia and Saint Augustine, Florida to name a couple, and plan to travel to Disney World with all of their grandchildren in September.
“I like to travel, but I love to come back home,” Thorpe says. “Once you’re born here, you always want to come back.”
When she’s not working or traveling, Thorpe says she devotes most of her free time to keeping up with her grandchildren. “We try not to miss any of their events,” she says. That means attending a lot of baseball games and awards ceremonies among other commitments.
Thorpe says much has changed around the Bon Secour community and Baldwin County as a whole since her youth, but there’s no place she’d rather call her home.