FLORISSANT, Mo. – A raucous gymnasium. Filled with All Saints Academy – St. Norbert campus students. Faculty versus eighth-grade students. Down 4-0, the adults call in a substitute: their science teacher, who has been deployed overseas since March.
“That was enthusiasm,” says Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Koehler. “That is the sort of enthusiasm that makes teaching middle school so special.”
“I was so excited,” says Alecia McCulley, All Saints Academy student. “I missed him so much. He’s the best teacher ever.”
“I was like, I almost started crying because it’s been a long time,” says Liam Meyer, All Saints Student.
By day, he’s their fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth-grade science teacher. But since March, Lt. Cmdr. Thomas Koehler has been on active duty deployment in Africa with the US Navy.
As part of their All Saint’s Academy Catholic school week celebrations, Koehler made his triumphant return to the gymnasium in Florissant.
“Well, they had him for two years already and they’ve missed him for most of their eighth-grade year and they really looked forward to him, having that male role model,” says Julie Smith, All Saints principal.
Now back to take part in the everyday life at All Saints Academy – St. Norbert campus, this teacher will touch on his dual responsibilities in the classroom and on his military missions.
“I view what I do in both realms in the Navy and here as a service,” says Lt. Cmdr. Koehler. “In a lot of ways, this is more meaningful because of how I’m touching lives.”