Grandchildren ‘sway’ Michelena’s decision to retire after 37 years

By Marlys Good

Lisa Michelena has announced her retirement after 37 years of teaching at a variety of levels and curriculums in District 3, teaching, guiding dozens and dozens of Greybull youth as they made their way through elementary and middle school.

Lisa, the daughter of the late Jerry and Margaret Brown Scott, said she “was following in the footsteps of my great aunt Edith Scott.”

“Miss Scott” taught fifth grade in Greybull for 52 years. Much respected, the grey-haired, bespectacled Miss Scott was a strict disciplinarian who ruled her classroom with a firm look and was thought by her pupils “to have eyes in the back of her head.”

Lisa said her Aunt Edith was “proud (and dedicated)” to her profession. I played school ‘under’ her desk in the old elementary school,” she laughed.

Fast forward a few years, Lisa graduated from Cody High School in 1978, attended NWC in Powell for two years before transferring to Eastern Montana College in Billings (now MSU-B) where she received her degree in 1982.

Frank Houk was superintendent in Greybull at that time and interviewed Lisa (just 22 years old at the time) at a Job Fair in Billings. He hired her the week after the interview for a fourth-grade position.

Lisa recalls, “Frank Gruden was the elementary principal. There‘s a world of difference from teaching in the early ’80s compared to teaching today! Technology, standards-based grading, ‘No Child Left Behind,’ class size, new buildings and updated classrooms, air conditioning … the list goes on.”

“Miss Brown,” as she was known by her students then, remembers her first year of teaching — 31 students in a classroom that held just 28 desks.

Two years later Lisa married Kenny Michelena, GHS grad who farmed/ranched on Beaver Creek.

Lisa recalls her grandfather Scott telling her, “Lisa, you keep hanging with those Shell boys, and you’ll end up marrying one.”

As she also recalls, “He wasn’t fond of the ‘Shell’ boys, but changed his mind when his great-granddaughters came along.”

During her 37 years, Lisa has taught junior kindergarten, third and fourth grades, seventh-grade reading, eighth-grade literature and Title I math and reading.

“I have been fortunate enough to accomplish many career goals. My greatest achievement, however, was when my Elementary Title I program was presented a National Title I Distinguished School award. I felt so honored to represent Greybull Elementary, along with the State of Wyoming, at the National Title I convention in Tampa, Fla.”

She admits that if she had to narrow it down, teaching third grade was her first love. Her goal was to be fair, consistent and honest with all of her students. “The main rule in my room was: ‘Do the Right Thing.’ My main answer to students who claimed they ‘can’t do it was … ‘maybe not yet, but you will.’”

Lisa said she hadn’t planned on retiring, but a few of her friends were encouraging her to join them in the wonderful world of retirement. Her daughters Erin and Kara thought it was a great idea, “but mostly those grandchildren (two and a third on the way) swayed their Granny to call it quits.”

She’s hoping now that she’s retired, she and husband Kenny can do a little traveling and camping with family and friends. “And I want to start checking things off my bucket list.”

Her ties to this community are long-held and strong. Her grandparents, George (Railroad) and Jewell Scott and great-grandmother McCarty were longtime residents and after moving to Cody, Lisa got to spend many a happy weekend in Greybull, spreading her stay between her grandmothers, great-grandmother and Aunt Edith.

I wholeheartedly believe that Greybull is a wonderful place to live, raise a family and teach. It has indeed been an amazing journey and I want to thank the staff, the parents and the community for supporting me through the years.”