At the announce table at center court in Phillips Gym, lower school physical education teacher pulls the microphone in front of her, in preparation to announce the starting lineups of the varsity boys basketball game. For the last 25 years, Lisa has been a part of the Pembroke Hill community as a substitute teacher, prekindergarten and kindergarten assistant, lead kindergarten and Wornall Campus physical education teacher, along with coaching upper school athletics and being one of the voices of Pembroke Hill sports.
Lisa was inducted into the school’s Faculty and Staff Hall of Fame Thursday, March 7, during the annual faculty and staff gathering, Celebrate Us.
“I’ve made some really wonderful, longtime friends,” she said. “Pembroke Hill is a fabulous community to be a part of. I’ve had the pleasure to get to know lots of wonderful families and have taught some amazing students.”
Lisa started at Pembroke Hill in 1993, initially as a substitute teacher in the early childhood school, while her daughters, Julie ’02, Annie ’05 and Maggie ’08, were attending school. “I thought since my daughters were here, why not support the school and help teach,” she said. A prekindergarten assistant position opened in the middle of the year, and Lisa was asked to fill in. “And I’m still here,” she chuckled.
Lisa served as an assistant in prekindergarten for six years, and as a kindergarten assistant for five years, before being elevated to a lead kindergarten teacher for six years. Former lower school principal Barry White then approached her to look over the description for the physical education positions the school had available. “He asked me, ‘You know so much about sports, can you look over it?’” Lisa said. “I looked over it and it sounded like something that matched me perfectly.”
Barry asked, “Does this sound like anyone you know?”
For the last eight years, Lisa has seen countless Wornall Campus students come through her gym doors, getting to know them and their families. “The great thing about teaching on the Wornall Campus is getting to see the growth of the students, from prekindergarten through fifth grade,” Lisa shared. “And with my experience as a coach and working with the athletic department, I get to see those students mature into young adults.”
Lisa has really enjoyed working with her coworkers. She laughed that of the four P.E. assistants that have worked with her, two have become athletic directors. “I train them well.” Additionally, she’s worked with fellow lead P.E. teacher Matthew Pritchett for the last eight years. “Our relationship is sort of like a marriage,” she quipped. “We’ve been together so long that we know what each other is going to say.”
Matthew echoed those sentiments. “We work really well together. We care for one another and with the both of us being coaches, we understand one another. I consider Lisa a great friend.”
For 20 years, Lisa has been on the sidelines of the Wornall Campus hockey field, partnering with head coach Avery Hughes to develop young field hockey players. She recalled playing the sport at a young age, and got involved at Pembroke Hill when her daughters began playing the sport. “I love going on the trips with the girls. Team sports really bring people together.”
Avery has savored having Lisa on her coaching staff. “Lisa is a fabulous asset to our team” Avery said. “She’s willing to do anything and does a lot of behind the scenes work that most people don’t realize. She has a wonderful rapport with the students, which I appreciate.”
Lisa looks forward to what the future holds. “I’m starting to teach my daughters’ friends’ children, which has brought that generation full circle and is really nice to see,” she said. “I hope to continue to teach here at PHS for as long as I can.”
Also at the event:
Head of school Dr. Steve Bellis posthumously inducted former upper school choir director Joel Diffendaffer into the Faculty and Staff Hall of Fame. Joel passed away suddenly last summer while on vacation. Both Lisa and Joel’s plaques will be hung on the Faculty and Staff Hall of Fame wall in Hall Student Center on the Ward Parkway Campus.