Stow -- It is not unusual for parents to show up at their children's schools to pick them up, but for Hayley and Téa Glace, it was something extraordinary when their father Glen did it March 3.
The Ohio Army National Guard Sergeant First Class was newly arrived home after 11 months in Kuwait, his third deployment overseas since 2003, and surprised his daughters in their classrooms; first Hayley, a junior at Stow-Munroe Falls High School, and then Téa, a sixth-grader at Lakeview Intermediate School.
Glace said he wanted to do it as something different from his previous two homecomings.
"They had been to a couple of welcome ceremonies so I figured I'd surprise them instead," he said. "It was great. It was really great. Both of them had tears in their eyes. [Hayley] jumped over her desk."
Glace said that the idea was raised in January and that his former wife Mandy Glace, who is Téa's mother; Hayley's mother, Meredith Kovach; his mother, Mary; and his girlfriend, Julie Zovath worked together to coordinate the operation with the schools.
Mandy Glace said her part was making arrangements with Lakeview.
"I got in touch with Andy [Yanchunas], the principal there, to tell him what we wanted to do," she said. "He was on board with it."
She said the girls actually knew their father was coming home, but they expected him to arrive the following Saturday, March 8. She said that despite the excitement of family members in on the secret, it was not hard to keep Téa at least from suspecting that something was going on.
"I just kept referencing Saturday," she said. "It wasn't so hard because she thought it was going to be Saturday."
Téa did know that family members were going to come to the school. Her mother said that the school's annual Veterans Day observance last November included various student projects and Téa won first prize with hers, a PowerPoint presentation, which earned her a donated $100 scholarship.
Téa knew that her grandfather, Don Shoup, was going to present her teacher, Susan Deitrick, with a plaque from the family with Téa's name on it, as well as space for the names of future winners. The surprise was when, after Yanchunas gave a brief introduction and her grandfather was hugging her, her father walked in and asked, "Mind if I join the party?"
Téa then ran into his arms.
"It was something I didn't expect, it was a surprise. I'm really glad he's home," she told the Stow Sentry March 6. "I was like, 'Oh my God,' I was really happy."
"I've been with him since then. I was playing games with him that whole night," she added.
Unlike Téa with the plaque, Hayley was anticipating nothing as she sat in class.
"My principal [Chris DiMauro] just walked into the class, said there was an announcement and [her father] walked in," she said. "The first few seconds after he walked in, I just sat there staring at him. I didn't know what to do and then I jumped over the desk."
"I'm just really glad he's back and it's really cool he wanted to surprise us," she added.
Glen Glace grew up in Canal Fulton, but has lived in Stow since 2006. His first deployment, when Téa was still an infant, was a year in Iraq in 2003-04, when U.S. armed forces invaded the country. During the first six months, he aided in water purification efforts, then switched to security, escorting convoys.
His second deployment was in Afghanistan for 11 months in 2010-11, providing security for engineers clearing roads of improvised explosive devices during combat logistic patrols.
He said he was never injured, but his deployments were still hard on his daughters.
"It's tough. It's tougher for them because they don't know if I'm safe. They felt more comfortable with me in Kuwait because there's no combat there," he said, adding that it was mostly "sustaining operations" office work.
Glace said Kuwait was his last deployment. He is about to reach his 20-year mark in the National Guard and expects to leave in the next year or so. When he is not serving he works in information technology for FirstMerit Bank and expects to continue that work.
"I'm glad to be back," he said. "I'm glad it's the last deployment and I can spend more time with [Hayley and Téa]." he said.