Welcome back, Mikee

Published 3:26 pm Tuesday, August 26, 2014

In the past week, Thompson Middle School’s newest employee has become a bit of a celebrity, according to his friends and co-workers.

“I saw you in the paper yesterday,” a TMS mother told Michael Harve Jr. as she checked in her student on the morning of Aug. 21, eliciting a smile from Harve.

Those who have had a chance to visit the TMS front office since Aug. 18 have no doubt noticed Harve’s contagious enthusiasm and willingness to make everyone who visits the school feel at home.

Harve, who uses a wheelchair for mobility, recently graduated from Project SEARCH of Shelby County, which works with special-needs students in Shelby County and Alabaster schools to offer the students internships and post-graduation jobs.

The program has helped dozens of local high school graduates find post-school jobs at places such as the Wynfrey Hotel and Hoover’s Ross Bridge Resort.

Through his new job, Harve buzzes visitors into the school using the security system, checks tardies each day, answers the front office phone, places mail in teachers’ mailboxes and more.

While we were visiting TMS last week for stories, we noticed Harve didn’t miss a beat each time a visitor pushed the doorbell on the school’s camera-based security system, and was always quick to offer a friendly “Can I help you?” to each person seeking entry into the school.

What makes his hire so significant is that it marked the first time a Project SEARCH student was hired back into the school system he attended as a student. Harve graduated from Alabaster’s Thompson High School a few years ago before entering the Project SEARCH program and honing his job skills for the future.

The impact of Harve’s hire wasn’t lost on his Project SEARCH Job Coach, Kim Kielbasa.

“It’s quite an accomplishment,” Kielbasa said, noting the ACS Warrior Center for special-needs students is housed in TMS. “For students who are going through the Warrior Center to see Mikee working here, it shows them what can be accomplished.”

We praise the Alabaster School System for hiring one of its own, and for showing all students what is possible through hard work and perseverance.

The editorial is the opinion of the Shelby County Reporter editorial board.