One of the top-ranking administrators for the Alamance-Burlington school system plans to hang up his hard hat for good early next year.
The school system’s chief operations officer, Dr. Todd Thorpe – who has spent the past eight of his 12 years with ABSS overseeing the construction, renovation, and maintenance of school facilities, as well as transportation – has announced his intention to retire at the end of February 2023.
Thorpe’s impending retirement caps a career in public education in North Carolina that spans more than three decades. He started out as a special education teacher for Anson County schools and later moved to Stanly County schools, where he served as an assistant principal and principal at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, and finally as the director of personnel and student services for Stanly County schools.
Thorpe served as the assistant superintendent for student services for ABSS from 2011 until 2015, when he was promoted to his current position.
Most recently, Thorpe has overseen the construction of a $67 million new high school, Southeast High School, which is scheduled to open for the 2023-24 school year. He has also shepherded toward completion another $83 million in expansions and renovations at the six existing high schools and two elementary schools (South Mebane and Pleasant Grove) that are funded by the $150 million bond package voters approved for ABSS in November 2018.
The bond projects have continued mostly on schedule, despite a yearlong statewide school shutdown, as well as the subsequent supply chain disruptions and labor shortages that have been attributed to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Thorpe pointed to “working to get the bonds approved and getting these projects underway” as one of his proudest accomplishments during his 33 years in public education. “Across the board, I would say we are well over 60 percent complete,” Thorpe said Tuesday in an interview with The Alamance News.
The school board voted to extend his contract with ABSS twice earlier this year – initially through June 30, 2023 and subsequently through June 30, 2024 – Thorpe confirmed for the newspaper.
But he has nonetheless decided it’s time to enjoy the fruits of his 33 years in public education. One of the factors in his decision to retire is a desire to help out with caring for his 87-year-old mother, whose health is declining, Thorpe said.
“Other than that, I’m just planning on enjoying life, enjoying retirement, and going fishing when I want to go fishing,” he said Tuesday.
Thorpe said he and his wife, Paulette Thorpe, who works at Williams High School, plan to remain in the area. They have two grown children and three grandchildren, with another on the way, Thorpe added.
With a chuckle, Thorpe readily acknowledges there’s one thing he won’t miss when he retires: “early morning snow calls.”
For years, whenever winter weather was in the forecast, Thorpe and his crew in the facilities department would get up as early as 3:30 a.m. on school days and crisscross the county to assess road conditions in order to determine whether ABSS schools should operate on a delay or close for the day.
During his nearly 12 years with ABSS, Thorpe has served under four superintendents (Drs. Lillie Cox, Bill Harrison, Bruce Benson, and current superintendent Dain Butler) and two interim superintendents (Harrison and Dr. Jim Merrill).
Thorpe holds a bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State University; a Master’s of School Administration from UNC-Greensboro; and a Doctorate of Education in School Leadership and an Educational Specialist in School Leadership degree from Wingate University.
His retirement is scheduled to take effect on February 28, 2023, ABSS public information officer Les Atkins confirmed for the newspaper earlier Tuesday morning.
OTHER CURRENT/RECENT ABSS COVERAGE:
Southeast High School construction on schedule: https://alamancenews.com/southeast-high-school-on-target-to-open-for-2023-2024-school-year/
Southern High School renovations almost complete: https://alamancenews.com/southern-high-renovations-and-construction-nearing-completion/
Arctic cold during Christmas week causes pipes to freeze at three ABSS schools: https://alamancenews.com/arctic-cold-impact-frozen-water-pipes-burst-at-three-schools/