Up, down, over and through; life is never a linear journey


Ellie Perkins

Santo Ripa in front of his classroom, room 211, on Wednesday April 26, 2023

The accident shook him to his core, changing the trajectory of his life entirely. 

He had no idea what would happen next. 

He had no idea what he wanted to happen next.

Sometimes a sinking feeling of hopelessness precedes that long sought-for feeling of fulfillment.

Santo Ripa shares a story of strength and endurance that brought him to the life he lives today.

“I am a product of Hatteras, North Carolina,” said Ripa. 

After attending First Colonial High School, Ripa took a soccer scholarship at the Virginia Naval Institute where he was prepared upon graduation to become enlisted in the Navy. Going immediately out west, he spent time training in California. Six months later he was brought into Colorado where he experienced a devastating medical hardship. 

“An ACL, MCL, PCL, tibial and fibular fracture. Ultimately I busted my leg up pretty bad,” said Ripa.

“It put me in this position where the Navy was like ‘hey you’re a little bit of a liability because you’re broken, and so I didn’t know what to do with my life.”

Returning home to live with his mom again, he was pushed to get a job. His first job was a coaching position through Kempsville High School. 

“I essentially learned through coaching that my passion involves instruction and working with kids,” said Ripa. 

Following his intuition, Ripa took a substitute teaching position that led to his pivotal decision to pursue a full-time teaching career. 

“It took me, realistically, seven years to really find myself rooted,” said Ripa.

“Once I found myself rooted, I fell in love with it, I still am in love with it, and I don’t see myself going back.”

Returning from a low point in life, Ripa found fulfillment in teaching, in his wife and young daughter and in his students; all of whom he is faithfully devoted to.

“I’m really happy,” said Ripa.

“It took me a little bit of time, but I found it.”