Odyssey of the Mind (OM) has been part of my life for over 25 years. When I first joined FCCPS there were only two OM teams and I coached both of them. The number of teams participating in this area was so small that our teams automatically advanced to states.
Clearly the program has grown by leaps and bounds and this year TJ hit an all time high with 24 teams! (No other school in the area comes anywhere close to this level of participation!) In the past quarter of a century I’ve coached multiple teams, served as a volunteer at the regional and state competitions, been trained as a judge, worked on the Region 11 Board of Directors, led training sessions, met with parents and teachers in other school systems wanting to get OM started, and coordinated OM here at TJ. You name it, I’ve done it. And I have loved every crazy, exhilarating, exhausting minute of it.
I’ll still work on the Board of Directors next year (I can’t get OM out of my system that easily!), but I will be passing the TJ coordinator baton to two of our 5th grade teachers who will take on the task of working with the PTA to run OM.
This weekend’s state competition marked my last OM event in the role of coordinator, so I’m hoping you’ll indulge me a bit as I say my thanks to everyone who has been part of the program here at TJ.
First and foremost, thank you to the students who have participated with enthusiasm, creativity, and hard work throughout the years. Awesome is the word that comes to mind when describing a TJ OMer.
And the sincerest of thanks to the parents and teachers who have served as coaches. To coach an OM team is a HUGE commitment of time, energy, and patience. It takes a special person to pull it off. Fortunately, the TJ community is chock full of special people!
I’m also grateful to the TJ administrators and staff. Bob Palermo and Mary Kay Howard have both routinely given up Saturdays to serve as volunteers at the competition and to cheer on our students. (And as the person who organizes ALL the volunteers for the competition, let me assure you that the presence of an administrator is rare — we are very fortunate!!). Current staff members who have given their time for the cause, either as volunteers, coaches or judges include: Lisa Allan, Steve Erick, Shelly Skomra, Mary Kelly, Lisa Mueller, Carol Seaver, Julie Huber and Jennie Ehrenzeller. I’ve probably forgotten someone but suffice it to say “It takes a village.”
For the past five years the PTA has also provided tremendous support. First, Esther Wisdom, then Beth Green, and now Amy Trombo, have all ably and enthusiastically supported the goals of the OM program as PTA coordinators. Thank you, thank you, thank you!