Happily Ever After

By Debbie Lagestee     •     Photos by Valerie & Ed Photography

Amanda and Aaron Thomas have a love story that rivals any Disney fairy tale. Their story began in 2009. Aaron, not interested in dating, adopted a dog to occupy his time. One evening he took his new dog to the dog park. Upon arrival, he noticed Amanda sitting and reading a 4th-grade fantasy book with a centaur on the cover while her dog played. As a teacher, she often reads books she assigns to her students. Aaron approached Amanda and sparked a conversation with a witty remark, “Don’t you need a pocket protector to read a book like that?” But what he was thinking was, “Wow, a female nerd. She is truly a unicorn!” Luckily for him, Amanda had a good sense of humor, and their conversation progressed beyond her book choice. Despite Aaron’s initial attempt to avoid the dating scene, the stars aligned and said otherwise.

In 2012, Amanda was completely surprised when Aaron coordinated with her friends and coworkers to propose marriage. A meeting was staged to get her out of her classroom, and Aaron enlisted the help of her students for a grand proposal. When she arrived back at her classroom, her class was standing in a semi-circle. Each held a letter that spelled out, “Amanda, will you marry me?” with Aaron standing behind them. She screamed and shut the door. While in the hallway, Amanda took a moment to compose herself. She went back into the classroom, and Aaron proposed. Her answer, “Uh, yeah,” was met by cheers and screaming from her students. Other teachers came rushing in to find out what the excitement was and to congratulate them. The entire event was captured on camera and video by her coworkers. It was one of the most amazing moments of their lives! They were married the following year in Piedmont Park. Since her students had played such an important part in the proposal, they had a second wedding at the school and invited all her students. Amanda’s best friend officiated the ceremony, and one of her students was the ring bearer. A reception at the school followed the ceremony. It was a very special memory Amanda holds dear to her heart.

Amanda grew up in the small town of Martinsville, VA. She attended Mary Washington College in Fredericksburg, VA. While touring colleges, she immediately fell in love with the campus, and she knew it was where she was meant to be. She followed the advice of her mentors and pursued teaching, a profession she was destined to be a part of. She initially taught kindergarten but quickly realized she was better suited for 4th grade. She stayed there for a few years then accepted a job at an international school where she taught 2nd grade English. Although she was only there a short time, it was a great experience and helped her grow as a teacher. Amanda then moved to Atlanta, GA, where she would later meet Aaron and taught 4th and 5th grade. Those years were highlighted by taking her students on outdoor field trips and trips to Washington DC. Amanda currently teaches 4th grade at Porter-Gaud School.

Amanda has a deep love for travel and photography, which started in high school. She had the opportunity to visit Mexico and Tobago. She paired her two hobbies together while visiting Greece, Italy, Spain, and England, taking photos every step of the way. She has even been fortunate enough to sell some of her photography work. Her dream job would be a travel photographer. Amanda also loves to read, mainly children’s books. She has a lofty goal of writing her own children’s book one day.

Aaron grew up in the small, picturesque New England town of Keene, NH. It was featured in the original Jumanji film. Growing up, Aaron knew he wanted to be an engineer. When the time came to choose a college, it made perfect sense for him to attend Georgia Tech, one of the best engineering schools in the country. 

He had an excellent opportunity to participate in the co-op program while at Georgia Tech. It enabled him to alternate between taking classes and working in the field. This allowed him to figure out precisely what he wanted to do with his education. He graduated as an industrial engineer and immediately began working for Bosch in the automotive aftermarket division. For the subsequent 22 years, he learned so much about the packing industry. He traveled throughout the United States, Mexico, and Germany, constantly learning and improving in his field. A few years ago, as a senior engineer in Atlanta, a new role within the company presented itself in Charleston. Aaron and Amanda made the decision to relocate. Aaron continues to work in packaging, but his new role supports the automotive manufacturing side of the business. His new position has allowed him to learn and practice new skills. “In regards to the move and transition, everything just fell into place,” says Aaron.

Aaron is a Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket football fan. He loved going to games as a student, and he became a season ticket holder as an alumni. Being a Yellowjacket fan is not always easy, but Aaron stays the course year after year! Aaron is a self-taught bass guitar player; he enjoys the challenge and still plays occasionally. Aaron has taken an interest in running. He ran a few 5k races when they lived in Atlanta, but he has taken a more serious approach to his training since moving to Charleston. Every Tuesday, he runs the Ravenel Bridge with his coworkers. He has completed a few 10k races, ran his first half marathon in 2021, and is constantly looking for new races to challenge himself as a runner. But the hobby Aaron enjoys the most is his love of cooking. He stumbled across America’s Test Kitchen on PBS years ago and has thoroughly enjoyed the challenges of learning to cook. His generous nature has him sharing these delicious recipes with his neighbors, which allows him to meet new people all the time.

Amanda and Aaron’s oldest son, John, is 7 years old and eager to try new sports. His current interests are karate and basketball. John follows in his dad’s footsteps, with running becoming a clear-cut favorite sport. Last November, he ran his first 5k and beat his dad! Aside from sports, John is into Beyblades, Pokemon, and his newest interest is in the YouTube phenomenon, NinjaKids. In school, John loves to learn. As a 1st grader, his reading skills are improving each day. Benjamin is 5 years old, and he loves athletics. He is a great team player in soccer and basketball, always looking to help his teammates. Also a fan of NinjaKids, he started ‘coaching’ himself and his brother on getting stronger and more agile by doing push-ups and pullups. Benjamin enjoys Hot Wheels, Monster Trucks, dinosaurs, and superheroes. He is a diligent kindergartener challenging himself to catch up to his brother’s reading level. He loves to show off his counting skills, but his true love is writing his own books.

The Thomas family has 2 pet dogs. Karma is a Black Lab/Great Dane mix. She was found by a neighbor on the side of the road when she was only one month old. She loves to go on runs with Aaron, and she is the largest lap dog one could have. Harry is a Golden Retriever/Great Pyrenees mix adopted from Lakeside Rescue. He is truly a gentle giant, and he has no idea he weighs over 100 pounds. The dogs are adorable and love each other and their family, and they are loved right back!

Amanda’s mom LuAnne lives with them. They all enjoy playing board games with the boys. In doing so, they live their motto, “Be kind. Do your best. Have fun.” Hoping to instill Amanda’s love of travel, they take a family trip every fall. They love exploring the mountains and visiting the National Parks. The boys are collecting commemorative coins from each National Park they see. On the way home, it has become a tradition to stop at an apple orchard and hand-pick apples to make homemade apple butter.

The Thomas’ live in the Jasmine Gates section of Bolton’s Landing. As a family, they love doing things in the neighborhood. Over the past few years, they have organized 5k races supporting various organizations in the community. They started a bike parade on the 4th of July, which all the kids look forward to each year. They have fun meeting up with friends at Food Truck Fridays. They love the amazing village of people helping one another. The use of Mealtrain.com is one of their favorite ways to support the community. “Our neighborhood takes care of each other. No matter what street you live on, people are watching out for each other,” said Amanda. They love walking, riding bikes, and waving to their neighbors along the way.

Although juggling work, kids’ sports schedules, raising a family, and managing 2 dogs may not feel like a fairy tale, Amanda and Aaron are living happily ever after!

This article was featured in the April 2022 issue of Carolina Bay Neighbors magazine.


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