School welcomes teacher back from Iraq

May 9, 2008 2:57:05 PM PDT
A high school coach and teacher received a hero's welcome Friday.Students and staff at Reavis High School in Burbank surprised 1st Lt. Cmdr. Jamie Conley, a member of the Illinois Army National Guard in a homecoming she won't soon forget.

Conley was expecting to meet with a few fellow teachers, but instead, the entire student body at the school filled the bleachers to welcome home a hero.

Conley was gone for about a year from her job as head physical education teacher and coach of track and field.

"She was very missed by not only the whole team, but the whole school. We were always worried about her, making sure she was safe. We're glad to have her back," said a student who identified herself as Lillian.

"It's just a joyful time for us," another student told ABC7 Chicago.

Conley graduated from Reavis and later taught at the school until she was called to active duty as first commander of her Army National Guard battalion.

"[I went] from Kuwait into Iraq taking supplies," she said.

Conley said she was overseas for 10 months. When asked how she would sum up that time, she said, "An experience."

"You have lived the true definition of dedication, commitment and honor. We have missed you, and we now salute you in a hero's welcome home," said Principal Dr. Dan Riordan.

In the crowd at Reavis also were Jamie Conley's mother, sisters, and fiance Scott Johnson, who has a wedding to plan with Conley by July.

" [I] just counted the days down. Every day was another day closer to her coming home and she and I getting married," Johnson said.

But before the wedding, Coach Conley has a few more hugs to give for her students and a few more hellos.


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