* By Nadi Meyer, KNews Managing Editor *
Every year, a bunch of colleges send out their students on a test run to see if they would really last in their dream job. Les Harper is one of those students, and his college, the University of Richmond, luckily, sent him right back to a place he could call home.
As a 1991 TDHS graduate and a graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, he came prepared with some tricks up his sleeve. Already student-teaching for seven weeks, he feels that this is the school he would love to make a difference in.
“I would really just like to teach art in general,” Harper said. “There was a teacher here when I was a student who was a very big mentor to me. What I’m trying to do is give back and be that resource for the kid who needs it like I wanted it and needed it back then.”
If it wasn’t for his mentor, who knows what path he would’ve taken? Later on, he got an internship, welcoming him into the world of animation at Cartoon Network.
“I eventually knew that animation was what I wanted to do so I was fired from the internship that day and hired as a freelancer. I was basically taught on the job and paid to learn to be an animator. And that led to my career,” Harper said.
Around 2008, his work began to take a toll on him, leading his health to suffer dearly. Eventually he had to get away from his high stress lifestyle of working in the Entertainment Industry in Atlanta, Georgia, leading him to resign from his full time position at Cartoon Network and move back to the Chester area. After spending some time freelancing, he thought it was time for a change.
“I thought teaching would be a great thing to get into since I’ve always wanted to do it,” he said. “I hit 40 and decided that it was time I go back to school and if I was ever going to do it, time was running out.
“My mother was a teacher here at Thomas Dale until 1970 before I was born. I’ve got a long history of people teaching in my family and a lot of connections here at Thomas Dale. It very much feels like home for me,” he added.
With his experience in animation and TDHS housing the CCPS Specialty Center for the Fine and Performing Arts, he hopes to plant his roots at our school. Teaching so far is as great as he’s dreamed.