Last week, it was tanks and Humvees. Friday, Lt. Laura Kelly traded that for a cushy limousine. Administrators from Everett picked her up for a full-fledged parade and celebration.
Lt. Laura Kelly is still feeling very overwhelmed, just three days home from overseas. "I'm just getting my feet wet. I'm still jet lagged, I got a cold, just trying to get acclimated."
She spent 14 months abroad, heading a firefighting unit on a base near Fallujah. She left Iraq just before elections, home to her husband Chad, and a grateful school celebrating their homecoming and hers.
One student talked about how impressed she was that Lt. Kelly asked for them to send her a biology book to keep up her studies while she was gone. Principal Dale Everett says, "This celebration is something we owe her."
Teaching at Everett was Kelly's first job out of school. She spent just a few months in the classroom before she was called to duty. Leaving made her a kind of superstar among the students, fame that's an opportunity for a soldier anxious to educate once again.
"We take for granted how we live here in the U.S.," Kelly explains. "I'm looking forward to get back in the swing of things, into the classroom, to share my stories with the students and staff."
Kelly could take over for the teacher who replaced her while she goes on maternity leave, or she may postpone her work until fall while she recuperates and readjusts to life her in Lansing.