A Portage Life in the Spotlight: Debra Thorn

By: Andrea Marvel Last Updated: September 26, 2018

For Portage native Debra Thorn, community starts at school.

Debra, who matriculated at Portage High School and Sawyer Business College, has served the students in Portage Township Schools for thirteen years and has been the Media Clerk in the Portage High School Media Center for the past six.

“I absolutely love my job,” Debra said, “Portage High School has some awesome students.”

Those awesome students often approach Debra outside of school to tell her what’s going on in their lives. She especially appreciates those graduates who return to visit, keeping her up to date on the progress of their lives.

These relationships are built on the foundation laid by the late Laurie Cohen, Debra’s mentor.

“She did more than just show me the ropes of checking out books, motivating students to read and helping get papers printed before the next mod,” Debra said, “She taught me that all students have a story.”

With that understanding, Debra interacts with students on a deeply personal level every day.

“They might come in for a book, but they end up chatting about how their day is going,” Debra said, “Sometimes kids need to vent. I’m here to listen.”

Cohen’s inspiration was an addition to the way Debra was raised. Her parents, though actions and words, showed her how to have respect and compassion for others.

In the spirit of respect and compassion, Debra makes note of how much her husband, Navy veteran Wes, does for the family.

Together they’ve raised two impressive young men, Zachary and Hunter. While Debra’s personal hobbies include cooking and reading, this family of Cubs fans loves watching baseball games together. Zachary, 25, has retired from the sport since graduating Trine University, but Hunter, 20, still plays for Purdue Northwest and the Whiting Oilmen.