Dr. Sandra Lee Thorpe

Dr. Sandra Lee Thorpe, 73, of San Diego County, Calif., passed away unexpectedly, Thursday, June 15, 2017, at her Smoketree Arabian Ranch in Borrego Springs. 

She was born Feb. 4, 1944 in Storm Lake, the daughter of Richard and Leone Thorpe.  She received her high school degree from Grossmont High School and her BA and MA in school administration from San Diego State University.  In 1988, she received her doctorate in education from the University of La Verne in Pomona, Calif.

Dr. Thorpe dedicated her life to the education and progress of children. After serving as a public high school English and art teacher and later school administrator, she started one of the first charter schools, Windows Arts Academy, in the San Diego Unified School District.

Horses were a passion throughout her life, and she pioneered and developed a Horse Wisdom Program that could be used to teach the three Cs: Communication, Compassion and Creativity.

Then when most people decide to retire, eight years ago Dr. Thorpe started the first charter school in Borrego Springs Unified School District, Juan Bautista de Anza Charter School, to provide a unique education for students in the local desert communities.

One of her favorite mottos was “Who I am makes a difference,” and she certainly did.

She is survived by her son, Todd Engstrand; brother, Rick Thorpe; and two grandsons, James and Trevor.

The family will hold a memorial reception in her honor at her Ramona property, 925 Old Julian Hwy, on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 2p.m.