Lisa Martin 1760 to Retire
Lisa Martin 1760 has spent many years cultivating her garden of life. Armed with a degree in marine biology and a sunny disposition, Martin feels that she has been extremely lucky to have had careers that match up with her passion for the natural world. Beginning at the Wistar Institute at the University of Pennsylvania, moving on to the Franklin Institute, and finally building a 34-year home at Germantown Academy, Martin has left her mark on all things science.
“There is a special, enviable energy that new teachers bring to the room – they fill the space with their excitement at the newness of sharing discoveries with their charges, relishing every illuminated light bulb,” said Head of School Rich Schellhas 1760. “Without question, Lisa Martin truly and thoroughly still possesses that very same energy. With skills that span the entire PreK-12 teaching arc, Lisa blessed GA during her final teaching chapter by diving in deeply to the Lower School science curriculum, masterfully making it her own as she partnered perfectly with Craig and then Troy to ensure that our students developed the earliest possible spark for the sciences. A veritable nature guru, Lisa generously shares her passion for the environment with peers at GA and beyond to make sure we understand and protect our bountiful yet precious resources. Lisa emanates joy, intelligence, and a love of life. These qualities have infused her relationships with students and colleagues alike. My only wish is that, in parting, she bestow upon us just a smidge of that beautiful energy to sustain us during her well-earned retirement.”
Martin will have taught exactly 17 years each in the Upper School and the Lower School when she retires this June. Perhaps one of the reasons for the switch in 2008 to teaching younger Patriots came from her work behind the ever-popular Kids Teaching Kids (KTK) program that she formed alongside former Upper School Chemistry teacher Ron Brown in 1995. While they were acutely aware that these different ages would require large adjustments to the curriculum, the duo found a way to bring together GA's youngest and oldest students. To this day, Upper School students continue to volunteer their time to teach PreK and Kindergarten students how to complete an experiment. It’s amazing to see how much each student learns from being with the other and how similar their thought processes and actions can be, and in ALL grades they still say, in unison, “Ms. Martin, Ms. Martin, mine's not working!”
In the daily teaching of students in grades PreK through second, Martin is able to watch their curiosity grow, which has given her some of her greatest happiness. “When students first walk into class and are asked where vegetables come from, they think baby carrots come in bags that you get from Wegmans,” said Martin. “Being able to see the whole process of going from seed to plant really gets their wheels turning and is amazing to watch. When students get to eat their veggies from their own garden, they’ll even say things like, ‘I love kale!’”
Hands-on learning is what Martin has really loved about GA. Her students’ opportunity to get their hands dirty, wade through the creek, and hear toads calling to each other on any given day propelled Martin to continue her quest for using every part of campus as her classroom. “I love that at GA even if one thing is written in the plan book, teachers have the opportunity to be flexible, to take advantage of the beautiful campus and explore nature,” Martin said.
As facilitator of GA’s Nature Program, she sought out cross-divisional and cross-curricular ways in which faculty and students could explore and appreciate our campus’ abundant natural resources. The US/MS Academic Courtyard is a tribute to this. Martin also headed Preserve Day for the past seven years. This annual public celebration of our outdoor spaces is a mid-October highlight for many GA families. She also developed curriculum through five different Kast Grants and, in turn, was awarded with GA's Distinguished Achievement Awards in 2005 and 2011.
Martin’s garden will surely continue to grow and flourish in retirement. “I know it’s cliché, but I really can’t wait to be a grandmother. And of course, being me, I will embrace my own marine biologist self and get involved with saving sea turtles or some other living creature. But for right now, after retirement, I just want to water my plants and read my books.”