Can you imagine that one headache actually helped thousands of kids in Georgia as well as left a lasting impact on the Odyssey of the Mind program? Oddly enough, this is exactly how this year’s Spirit Winner got interested in OM.
“In the spring of 1991, I was a busy working mother of two young daughters. I was teaching 3rd and 4th grade gifted students and active in the local community theater. My schedule was exhilarating and exhausting and I was home from work with a powerful headache I could not shake. Flipping channels, I landed on an Atlanta news story about a creative problem-solving program, Odyssey of the Mind, and I was immediately hooked. I started a program at my school the next year coaching four teams alone. Many lessons were learned that first year and the local program quickly expanded to the entire school district using both teachers and parents as coaches. I continued to coach and coordinate the school district’s efforts,” she Lisa said.
In the years since then Lisa has generously used her time to expand OM throughout Georgia, serving in many roles, and uses her educational expertise to help shape OM and it’s alignment with STEM standards. Of her experience she said, “I coached and coordinated for many years joining the GA OotM Board as an RD in the summer of 1997. As is often the case, when you join a board, you realize how hard people work behind the scenes, I cried and prayed the whole way home. I knew how important the work was and I did not want to mess things up. As I grew and learned with GA OotM I became the Assistant AD and then the AD, judging numerous times and in several positions along the way. In the fall of 2009, my youngest daughter and her best friend were college students and looking to form a Div. IV team, I had just started my doctoral program and I was recruited to join the team. This proved to be an invaluable experience – a truly light bulb experience.”
She is also so giving of her time and organizational skills helping out in many facets of World Finals – she volunteers at so many events at World Finals, she almost had to introduce herself to speak at graduation! You can find her helping at the Float & Banner Parade and Graduation. And of course, supporting her Georgia teams — and anything else that comes up!
“When asked for help, Lisa always says yes, she has done anything and everything to help the program. Lisa also always treats everyone with respect and kindness – whether you are a first time student or a seasoned coach, she treats you as the most important person in OM,” said OM Program Director Sammy Micklus.
Even outside of OM, Lisa continues to support her local community while balancing family life, “I was born in Tennessee, but raised in Dalton, Georgia. I am married to my high school sweetheart, and we have two daughters, two sons-in-law, five grandchildren, and two dogs. We enjoy family time, camping, and water sports and good books are treated like dear friends. I am a lifelong educator returning to our hometown after college to raise our family. I found my niche in gifted education and taught gifted students in grades K-8 before becoming the district gifted coordinator and then director over gifted and several other areas of curriculum. Last year I joined the Georgia Department of Education as the gifted program specialist,” she said.
Over the years she has served on many boards and committees. Currently, she serve on the Georgia Gifted Coordinators Executive Board, the Georgia Association for Gifted Children Advisory Board, the Dalton Education Foundation Trustees, and as a local United Way Community Solutions volunteer.
Of receiving the award Lisa said, “I am deeply humbled and frankly stunned about receiving the spirit award. There are so many people who work so hard to make this program possible for students, to be singled out touches me profoundly. I am honored and grateful to even be considered for this prestigious award.”
Her integrity, kindness and openness to helping others shines through in everything that she does, and OM is so much better for it. Thank you Lisa!
(And sorry for the many additional headaches we’ve surely given you over the years!)