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Lisa Stahlman Colby

Lisa Stahlman Colby
Reading Teacher
Persell Middle School

How long have you worked for JPS? 

This is my 30th year. I started my career at Love School, moved on to being a Teacher On Special Assignment in the Professional Development Office, went back to the classroom as a reading teacher at Jefferson Middle School and then moved to Persell Middle School, where I’ve been ever since. Every step along the way provided me opportunities for growth, provided me opportunities to be creative, and I’d say the essential theme is that I always have felt that Jamestown is a forward-thinking district. I always felt that there was a lot of help and support and always opportunities for new challenges. 

What brought you to JPS? 

I had been living in Boston, Massachusetts at the time. And when I left this area, I had no intentions of coming back. But I came back to go to graduate school. And I picked up a teaching certificate. And I had a student teaching experience at love school. And from day one, when I walked into that building, I had the bug. I was so amazed with everything wonderful that was happening. I loved the students. I loved the families. The faculty and staff were so dynamic. And in Jamestown at the time, I really felt like there was a renaissance that was happening, the 10,000 Maniacs pressing our time and Eden, the Reg had just started up again. Downtown was humming and I came back with a different set of eyes. 

What’s been the highlight of your career? 

I have to say the kids. I have to say my colleagues. I work with such incredible educators. I have always worked with great educators and I really feel that here at Persell, it's very, very collegial. We help and support each other with curriculum, with student needs. And again, just the fact that I have always been pushed to try new things, and from that came growth. 

I love it when I see the kids that have graduated and are out working in the community, or if they're younger, and they're a past student, and I'm walking down the street and they'll say, ‘Hey, Mrs. Colby.’ There was one, one boy who really had my heart and he was challenged academically and he was challenged in his home life. Each year, I read the book ‘Milkweed’ by Jerry Spinelli, which takes place during the Holocaust and the Warsaw Ghetto. And this one boy was so into it and everyday came into class and he'd say, “Are we reading more?” And at the end of the book, he cried. The book touched him. 


About four years ago, I was leaving school. I was walking out the front entrance, and the boy was there on his bike, graduating from high school, and he said, “Mrs. Colby, do you still read the book ‘Milkweed?’” And I said, “Yeah,” he said, "Could I have a copy of it?” So I, of course, gave him the copy. When kids come back, and they remember specific things like a book or an assignment, that’s what it does for me. 

What’s your favorite part of your job? 

It’s the “light bulb.” I just absolutely love it when we've been working and working and working and then all of a sudden, they figure out the code, and all of a sudden, it's working for them. I love to sit back and watch the kids as they learn their own discoveries. I love to watch their confidence grow.