LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Lisa Thomas

Position: Sixth Grade Counselor
School: Southern Middle School
School District: Anne Arundel County Public Schools
City, State: Lothian, MD

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Lisa Thomas was nominated by her spouse, Russell Thomas.

Ms. Thomas is a proven innovator in education who builds equitable and empowering programming that makes demonstrable impacts on the students and the county’s approach to programming.

Ms. Thomas was called on by the Board of Education to work as an Equity Liaison for the county, where she coordinated school wide programming to promote cultural awareness within schools. She devised the "Oh The Places You'll Go" vertical program with the local high school to have the graduating high school students visit her school to parade in their cap and gown as a way to promote college/career awareness. Ms. Thomas also created the highly effective Officer Lunch Buddy initiative in collaboration with the Anne Arundel County Police Department (AACPD), which included officers having lunch in the school as a way to build bridges between students and law enforcement officers. The program was so successful that other schools across the county have implemented the program.

Ms. Thomas is a sought-after counselor in times of crisis, often being called upon by other schools when students are dealing with significant life-altering situations like suicidal thoughts, sudden parental death, drug addiction and violent temperaments. She leads several crisis intervention teams and has developed the "My Brother's Keeper" Male empowerment group as way to provide young males with the life-skills they need to make positive decisions.

In addition, Ms. Thomas had launched:

  • Motivated Mondays to help students learn goal-setting skills;
  • Thankful Tuesdays to learn gratitude;
  • Way to Go Wednesdays to recognize teachers and students for academic growth;
  • Fan-club Fridays to give friends or teachers shout-outs for kind acts;
  • A human relations club to encourage students to participate in school wide community service initiatives, and;
  • A Leadership Committee, where staff, teachers, and community stakeholders collaborate to proactively problem solve school wide concerns.

Ms. Thomas is adamant about utilizing data, parent referrals, and teacher/staff recommendations to target specific students for group support or counseling. The Board of Education often recognizes her engaging approach to educating students by calling on her to assist with board initiatives. She has been asked to assist Human Resources with recruiting at Diversity fairs for Anne Arundel County Public Schools; lead recruitment on behalf of the county’s School Counseling office for various graduate school counseling efforts; and to speak often about working for Anne Arundel County Public Schools.

"Ms. Thomas is a very responsive and willing educator who leads and assists wherever she finds a need. She is one of the best educators in the nation," said Russell.



Comments (52)


Capt. Reg Posted 9 months ago

Lisa's passion and positive support empowers students to succeed.

Kevin Jones Posted 9 months ago

Lisa embodies the word Leadership and she strives for her students to reach for Excellence. "Nothing can be too difficult if you plan ahead in setting your mind for Greatness"

Regina Washington Posted 9 months ago

Lisa's professionalism as an educator exhibits all of the qualifications associated with this award. Lisa is a game changer with a beacon of light who has encouraged others to excel in reaching their potential to Greatest! For Lisa exemplifies the village of Achievement towards helping others in Accomplishing their Dreams.

Gina Jones Posted 9 months ago

Lisa Thomas carries a torch of greatness . Which has been displayed in her work ethic of continued help to others in completing the task before them. In enabling students to achieve proficient or advanced in their grade levels. Lisa is caring , kind, loyal, and flexible towards her students in building their self worth and self esteem in achieving their career goals. Lisa is most deserving of this award.

Muriel Washington Posted 9 months ago

Lisa Thomas has been a stellar educator in working with her students. Lisa has been caring and nurturing in building students self esteem in accomplishing mastery for the curriculum of instruction. Lisa's tireless perseverance enable her students to gain confidence in reaching their goals for positive growth towards career attributes. All of which was due to Lisa recognition and great leadership in consistent guidance of making sure her students understood the completion of task set before them. This is why I am nominating Lisa Thomas for this award.

Lorraine Washington Posted 9 months ago

Lisa Thomas is an outstanding educator that exhibits all of the qualifications of leadership. Lisa is extremely flexible in completing multitasks to the highest quality. She is warm, friendly, and caring in wanting her students to excel. Lisa is nurturing in executing the goals for accomplishing the curriculum of instruction displaying “The Grows and The Glows”. Her compassion for education is evident through the growth of her students. I highly recommend Lisa for this wonder award.. she truly deserves The Life Changer of the Year!

Kellie Green Posted 9 months ago

Awesome Job Lisa !! Keep up the good work!!

Andrea Webb Posted 9 months ago

I had the opportunity of meeting Lisa at orientation as a student before I knew her as a School Counselor. My first impression was "Wow, this woman is so kind and full of life." She loved learning and educating others. These characteristics stayed true through our time as students in our School Counseling program and as the saying goes, iron sharpens iron. Lisa and I grew closer through the knowledge and commitment to education and making a difference. Lisa was and still is an amazing example of what a thoughtful and creative person looks like and her passion for School Counseling and willingness to go the extra mile for others while applying knowledge, instinct and heart make me feel blessed to have ever had the privilege to call her friend and fellow School Counselor. This nomination is one well deserved!

Edmund Fleet Posted 9 months ago

Ms. Thomas is a caring educator who always provides direction and assistance to the students that she services.

Lourdes Willoughby Posted 9 months ago

Mrs. Thomas "A Woman on a Mission" She is an inspirer who treats and serves people with Human Dignity, Compassion, Respect, Integrity, these are the life "Values" that Mrs. Thomas brings to the life of people whom she touches and the lessons she reaches that will follow her students beyond the class room doors. She is shaping and building character in the lives she touches. I known this because I witness her in action, and what better stage is there to witness someone then the stage of life. She is a wonderful, caring wife, and mother that takes no-nonsense , and holds her children accountable while, protecting, and loving them, and all the while guiding them with important life lessons "treat others the way you want to be treated". My interactions with Mrs. Thomas have been personal nevertheless in her stewardship she commits to promote to the responsibility of shaping human lives and I would dare say including the earth. She is a resource of information that leaves "No stone unturned" I love and admire you Lisa, but most of all I am grateful for you, please continue to touch the lives of our present and future generation and teach the lessons that reach beyond the class room doors. Your proud Parent Lourdes Willoughby.

Kristen Martz Posted 9 months ago

Mrs. Thomas is a wonderful School Counselor! She is amazing at building strong, trusting relationships with her students and families in order to provide support and encouragement in a positive, proactive manner. Mrs. Thomas always brings passion, respect and kindness to the lives of her students. Through her strong interpersonal skills and collaboration with staff/community, I have witnessed her ability to engage her students to discover interests, form connections and develop future personal/academic goals in order to motivate them to overcome obstacles they may face in life. Mrs. Thomas brings enthusiasm and energy to her job as she coordinates fun lunchtime activities, group counseling lessons, school-wide initiatives and more! We are so lucky to have Mrs. Thomas at SMS!

Tawana Ringgold Posted 9 months ago

It was a great honor to have worked with Lisa Thomas. She is very skilled in her profession and did a wonderful job working with our amazing students here at Piney Orchard Elementary. Lisa Thomas is a highly motivated and experienced guidance counselor that help all students in the areas of academic achievement, career and social/emotional development, and ensures today's students become the productive, well-adjusted adults of tomorrow. She is a vital member to our educational program here at AACPS and one I am proud to call friend.

Rod Willoughby Posted 9 months ago

Lisa Thomas is my daughter. I thank my son-in-law Russell for having found a forum to honor his wife. Lisa is a strong individual. Her core values as a quality person lend to her gifts as a teacher and counselor and community anchor. I reflect on a glimpse of her compassion when she was around 10 years old. We were going into McDonald's restaurant and before we could park, a young man in his twenties approached us. The young man appeared to be experiencing hardship. He asked us if we could to please buy him a hamburger as he had not eaten. I told the man of course we would. When I turned to Lisa to get out of the car she was clearly moved. I said, "what's wrong little sweetie"? and she began to cry saying, "Daddy he was so hungry". Lisa has developed that caring into a love of people especially children. She stepped up time and again to the needs of both family and students and friends. Lisa is my beloved daughter, counselor and my friend. I trust her wisdom, insight and judgement she has given to me over the years. Lisa would be a great choice for this award. Thank you, Rod Willoughby her proud father.

Sherri Billheimer Posted 9 months ago

Lisa Thomas has worked with students from K-12 and at all levels she simply "rocked it"! In each school, I have watched her make both visible and visceral contributions to the community. She consistently played a huge role in building the culture and climate to ensure all of her students and stakeholder felt welcome. She has always been hard working, caring and enthusiastic in all of her endeavors. Ms. Thomas has a passion for students and takes the time to relate to them on a personal level. I know this because I have had the opportunity to work with her not only as a colleague at the high school level but also as a parent in her elementary school. I am nothing more than proud to have had the chance to work alongside her!

Lisa Wild Posted 9 months ago

Mrs. Thomas an amazing educator and counselor. Her upbeat cheerful personality and strong leadership skills makes her an ideal recipient for the Lifechanger award. She is friendly and kind, and has a heart for children and helping them overcome problems and set goals for the future. With her students have developed coping strategies and ways to grow as little humans. During her time at our school, Piney Orchard Elementary, she initiated the Officer Lunch Buddy program, which allowed us to partner with our local police department to have officers come and spend time each month, eating lunch with the students and building positive relationships with our first responders. This allows students to see the police as helpers and friends. She is amazing and most deserving of this award as she truly is a life changer in all she does!

Joan Sullivan Posted 9 months ago

Lisa Thomas is very deserving of the Life Changer of the Year award. For the short time we worked together at Piney Orchard, she was always professional and compassionate when dealing with students and families. The Officer Lunch Buddy was such a wonderful initiative for our students to interact with our local police officers. It was such a positive program for both the students and the officers. I understand that other schools are doing the same program. Lisa is such a positive person and great things are in store for her!

Dorrian Epps Posted 9 months ago

Lisa Thomas is nothing short of amazing! She is dedicated, creative, caring, supportive and an genuine spirit! She is an excellent school counselor and friend, who encourages everyone and shows great compassion and accountability. Lisa Thomas is always very professional and ready to jump in to assist in problem solving or just to be a listening ear. While at Piney Orchard, Lisa implemented numerous programs for our community to be involved in and partnership with our school. Today, those programs are still a great success. Mrs. Thomas brings that feeling of comfort, open arms and no judgement for our students. She is a safe haven to many! There are very few educators who still believe in "building a bridge" and "It takes a Village". Lisa is the bridge and village! No one deserves this recognition more!

John Heiser Posted 9 months ago

Lisa is a dedicated and compassionate School Counselor and person. She enjoys her role as a School Counselor and is passionate when it comes to working with students and their families respectively. Lisa always has a smile on her face and goes out of her way to work with students as well as the faculty and staff at Southern Middle School. Lisa has been a team player since she arrived here in August. Her innovative techniques as well as her enthusiasm allows students to prosper and grow and to reach their full potential. Students enjoy working with Lisa whether it is in the School Counseling Office or a class presentation she is delivering. Lisa Thomas without a doubt is a reliable and trustworthy colleague who comes to the table ready to work and shares many great ideas that she has accumulated over her professional career. She prides herself on excellence and is always striving to do the best and be her best in every situation that surfaces here at school regularly.

Dawn Maxwell Posted 9 months ago

Lisa is highly organized, you can always count on her, very professional, firm yet warm with the students. It was a pleasure working with Lisa. She was always finding ways to help/assist the community whether it be raising money for families in need of food, families who could not provide Christmas for their children, school supplies for those in need at the beginning of the school year and arranging for local police officers to have lunch with the students, just to name a few of the wonderful ways Lisa gives back to the community. I would highly recommend that Lisa get this award. We miss you Lisa!

Betty W. Posted 9 months ago

Lisa is definitely deserving of such a reward. As a retired educator and family member, I recall when Lisa first entered into the education field. Even as a first year teacher she was extremely concerned that her students were not receiving the highest possible benefits available for her then kindergarten students. I see this same innovative attitude with family and friends. Lisa is always friendly, and supportive of family. She is a great mother to her own two children, but also found time and love to raise and care for a younger sibling when their mother was ill and passed away. Lisa is and always has been about the welfare of her students now and in the future.

Shaina Solomon Posted 9 months ago

Mrs. Lisa Thomas is a wonderful person and couselor who goes the extra mile to help others. She is dedicated to her students as well as family and friends. One small example of Mrs. Thomas as a life changer: A child in her neighborhood was bening bullied at school. With the child being near in age to her own children, she actively soughy out times for the children to play together and attend activities together. I heard about this not from Mrs. Thomas, but from the mother of the child who was being bullied. She beamed while telling me how happy she was that Mrs. Thomas had embraced her child and how much it meant to her and her family. Mrs. Thomas is truly a life changer.

Sherrita Posted 9 months ago

Lisa Thomas thrives on preparing students for opportunities in life. Navigating academic and social pressures is less challenging with an educator of her caliber in their corner.

Karen Posted 9 months ago

Lisa is an amazing educator and counselor. Her commitment to serving the needs of children and their parents is phenomenal. She truly cares about children and their educational trajectory. Lisa is a positive influence and well deserving of this recognition.

Angela Ball Posted 9 months ago

Lisa Thomas is one of the most caring people I know! Her dynamism and engaging demeanor is evident in everything she does. She is thoughtful, genuine and an excellent listener. Her students, colleagues and loved ones are so fortunate to have this Life Changer in our midst!

Karen Posted 9 months ago

Lisa is an amazing educator and counselor. Her commitment to serving the needs of children and their parents is phenomenal. She truly cares about children and their educational trajectory. Lisa is a positive influence and well deserving of this recognition.

Corey Ball Posted 9 months ago

Lisa Thomas has dedicated her life to the enrichment of youth and is so deserving of this honor. Her true commitment to providing the tools necessary for our young people to achieve their goals is admirable and should be recognized and honored.

Karen Bailey Posted 9 months ago

Mrs. Lisa Thomas is an amazing school counselor and human being. She finds creative ways to support students, parents, teachers, staff, and administrators. Her warm smile, bright eyes, and kind words and actions create a positive school climate. Mrs. Thomas is calm and quick to assist when there is an emergency. I am thankful for the time we worked together and blessed to have her as a friend. Mrs. Lisa Thomas is truly a life changer!

Jillian Washington Posted 9 months ago

Lisa is a very genuine human being and it show in her personality. She pushes the children to carry out there dream and to explore life's possibilities. Lisa leads by example and continues to cultivate her existence so she has more to pour in to others.

Patricia Posted 9 months ago

Lisa has a wonderful relationship with her students and is a great counselor with creative ideas. She is an awesome addition to the staff at SMS!!

S.Dowling Posted 10 months ago

Lisa is a wonderful mentor and friend. I watch in awe at how she pours so much not only into her family, but into her school and community. Lisa truly cares about people, which is a rare quality in today’s times. She is deserving of this award and so much more.

Dana R. Brown Posted 10 months ago

Mrs. Thomas embodies all the attributes of this prestigious award. She's kind, earnest and present in the moment. The sign of a great leader is one of fortitude and the ability to adapt in any environment. I have known Mrs. Thomas since childhood and she has always been a person of strong character and grace. She brings light wherever she goes, lighting the way for others. #LCOY

Allison Thomas Posted 10 months ago

Lisa Thomas is very dedicated to her students.She always goes above and beyond for them. She loves them, and they totally adore her. I’m so proud of all of her accomplishments. She has taught me that persistence, and hard work truly pay off.

Dylan Posted 10 months ago

You will not find anyone more genuine and giving than Lisa Thomas. She really cares about the people and especially the kids that she comes into contact with in her life. She really deserves this award.

Willie Garrett Posted 10 months ago

Lisa is a caring and warm person. She strives for greatness and wants the best for everyone in her presence. She is definitely a life changer.

Morganne Kelliebrew Posted 10 months ago

I have always felt welcomed and uplifted by Lisa, whether it was having her as a substitute teacher in 4th grade or visiting her home to say hello. With all the kindness, motivation, and support she has given her sister and me over the years, I can believe that she helps change lives everyday. Southern Middle School is definitely blessed to have her leadership and dedication in guiding the students to success.

DeVonte' Jackson Posted 10 months ago

Lisa has been an amazing influence in my life. In the two years I have known her, she has encouraged me to pursue my masters and inspires me to always do my best.

Omar Richards Posted 10 months ago

Not only is Lisa caring and compassionate, she is also authentic. She is the one you go to when you’re in need of honesty but love at the same time. A soul that not only earns your trust but she keeps it. The amount of time she devotes to helping others is unparalleled. She is intentional when she interacts with others. She pours out her heart towards everyone she comes into contact with and has shaped a lot of lives for the better.

Marci McElhaney Posted 10 months ago

There is no one more deserving than Lisa for this award. Always professional, Lisa stands for what this award exemplifies, life changing. While at Piney Orchard Elem she began several programs that helped to shape and mold some of our most troubled students. Coordinating AACo Police Officers to eat lunch with students was not always an easy task but the students and officers loved the interaction. There is no one in the AACPS community that deserves this award more then Lisa Thomas. She is truly a unique and amazing person.

Nicole Jackson Posted 10 months ago

Although I have only known Lisa Thomas for just under two years, I knew right away that she was a bright and shinning star who makes everyone around her shine. Southern Middle School is lucky to have her on their team.

Prima Asante Posted 10 months ago

Thank you for sharing your joyful spirit! Your smile is contagious & brightens so many! XO Prima

Catherine Robinson Posted 10 months ago

Lisa is a kind, caring and respectful friend and colleague. When I met her during my second year of teacher she was supportive and a confidant. She was able to offer me personal and professional advice in order to be successful in the classroom. During my time working with her she has been able to establish whole school incentives for positive rewards and student empowerment. If anyone deserves this reward it is Lisa Thomas.

Lydia Gruber Posted 10 months ago

Mrs. Thomas is not only an excellent educator and counselor, but a dedicated parent, friend, and employee. Her cheery demeanor, coupled with strong leadership skills makes her the perfect recipient for the lifechanger award. She shows the same sweet determination in her personal and professional life, displaying so many characteristics that change people's lives! Something that sticks out is when she initiated the Officer Buddy program at Piney Orchard Elementary School. She invited police officers from the neighborhood to sit with students during lunch. I'm certain this has changed the lives of many students and police officers alike. I can't wait to see what she does next!

Sheila C. Posted 10 months ago

Lisa is a very caring individual which shows in the way she deals with her students. She is extremely concerned about their well being - academically, emotionally, and socially. She is vested in them not just for their current success but also for their future success. She realizes that her support now will help them develop into responsible successful individuals that Anne Arundel County Public Schools will be proud of as they grow into adults.

Mikaela Graves Posted 10 months ago

Lisa Thomas is definitely a life changer. She positively impacts every person she comes in contact with, no matter who they are or where they come from. She makes a huge difference and spreads a beautiful light anywhere she goes!

Anthony Posted 10 months ago

Lisa is one of KIND and not too often you encounter educator like herself. She's well deserving of this award.

Kim Posted 10 months ago

Lisa is an amazing counselor! The staff and students at SMS are so lucky to have her with us!!!

Angela Posted 10 months ago

Lisa truly cares about our youth. She demonstrates that through her kindness, innovation and patience.

Lionel Posted 10 months ago

Lisa is AMAZING!!

Bruce Buchanan Posted 10 months ago

Lisa's story is amazing! She's making a huge difference in the lives of middle school kids and has created a number of innovative and effective programs to meet the needs of her students.

RT Posted 10 months ago

We're very proud of you and the work that you do.

Sonja Milutinovic Posted 10 months ago

Lisa's work with children in difficult situations has been exceptional. She always goes a step beyond what is necessary, and makes an impact in many childrens' lives. By focusing on the positive in tough times, she helps students to see that there is a way past the issues that they struggle with. Lisa should be commended for the work she has done thus far, and encouraged to continue her efforts. I highly recommend Lisa Thomas for Life Changer of the Year.

Bonnie McCain Posted 10 months ago

Definitely a life changer, mentor, all around beautiful person!!!