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Alumni Success Story: Stephanie Dorantes '06


As an eighth grader, Stephanie Witham Dorantes (’06) read “Harry Potter” at her home in Pachuca, Mexico. The boarding life at Hogwarts intrigued her. At the same time, she was eager to escape constant bullying at school. She knew about North Georgia from visits to her grandmother. “I went into my dad’s office, logged in on his computer, and searched for boarding schools in North Georgia,” said Dorantes. She emailed Rabun Gap and TFS. Both sent her information on a VHS recorder.  “One of the kids in the video at TFS said that everyone had at least one true friend, so I wanted to come.” In the fall of 2002, Dorantes began her freshman year at TFS.

“My favorite year was my first year because I was changing so much. I broke out of my shell,” said Dorantes. “I made really good friends with people from all over the world. We were like a huge family, I didn’t even know what grade people were in.” Teachers and coaches poured into her life. “Coach Neal and Coach Campbell helped me a lot,” she said. “I was not a sporty girl, but when I got to TFS, I got into sports – I ran cross country.”

Life in the dorms was always an adventure for Dorantes. “There were a lot of us from different cultures, but it was like living with a bunch of siblings.” She loved going on weekend trips, hiking, and camping. They even hiked in the snow. “We were in charge of our own trips. We had to organize them,” she said.  “We learned responsibility, and we found ownership.” 

After graduating in 2006, Dorantes attended SCAD for one year before completing the Disney College Program. From there, she attended the Universidad La Salle Pachuca in Mexico, where she received a degree in graphic design. Dorantes returned to the United States to teach Spanish, art, and theater at TFS!  When her grandmother grew sick, she went back home to Mexico to help care for her. In 2020, Dorantes returned to TFS to teach graphic design, yearbook, technology, digital arts, and media production.

“My objective with all of my classes is that they develop a basic understanding of technology, design, and composition,” said Dorantes. They learn a little about coding and managing a computer in fifth grade – by the eighth grade, they are proficient in Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. They are completing projects like t-shirt design, album covers, stop-motion animation films, and the middle school yearbook.

Dorantes gives helpful advice and direction to students on their projects. Recently, she helped seventh grader Quilan Flanders create a stop-motion animation film. “I like learning how to animate the frames, making the backgrounds, and bringing my little characters to life,” said Flanders. “Getting every single frame and tedious detail, like the shading on the curtains, is hard to get exactly how I want it.” 

Dorantes’ time at TFS helped her build character and become the best version of herself, and now she gives this back to her students every day.

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