Makenna Riddle's mom Mary Ann opens the front door and leads Shawn Thacker into the house. Coach is here, and he's going to read one of Makenna's favorite books, "Trolls."
"I have learned all of the troll names. Wanna hear them?" Shawn asks Makenna.
Makenna is a high school senior who suffers from conditions that leave her nonverbal and unable to attend school. That's where Shawn comes in. Shawn has been an influential part of the Rowan County school system for 10 years. In addition to coaching basketball, track and cross country, Shawn is also a homebound instructor for the county schools.
"Every day is a juggling act that you never know what to expect," Shawn says.
He visits the homes of kids every day who are in the homebound system. These visits include homework, tests or, in some cases, reading. Some of the kids in the homebound program Shawn has visited have been injured in carnival accidents, suffered from leukemia, had babies while still in school or been diagnosed with autoimmune disorders, just to name a few.
Shawn's father died when he was nine years old. He didn't have a male figure to go to his games or help him with homework. The impact of losing his father motivated Shawn to be the person he is today.
Shawn has helped hundreds of kids throughout his time as a homebound instructor. Not only does Shawn act as a calming and supportive father figure to his kids at work, he also has three children of his own. Shawn's schedule depends on who needs him. When a parent calls and asks him to stop by, he goes.
"That's the thing about these kids: someone's got to be there for them and help them, and in these cases I get to be that person," Shawn says.