Lisa Denomme started her college career at Wayne State University as a theater major, but her love of performing arts wasn’t quite the fit she had hoped it would be.
“The amount of dedication needed to do theater at that level was just kind of beyond my reach. It definitely was different from what I had experienced at that point in my life,” she says. “So I had to do a little bit of reflecting and kind of decide what would be a better fit for me – and it sort of surprised me that I had never really thought about teaching as a career.”
Denomme had always loved assisting with directing plays in high school, enjoyed working with kids and had a love of English and reading. So really, teaching was a natural fit.
Today, Denomme is 20 years into her teaching career with the Warren Consolidated School District, where she teaches English to 11th and 12th grade students at Sterling Heights High School.
“It has clearly been the right career choice for me,” she says.
Denomme is one of three recipients of the Macomb County Teacher of the Year Award in 2019, which is an annual honor – now in its 33rd year – that recognizes teachers for their excellence. (Read about fellow winners Linda Smith and Shayne Reckling, too.)
She’s spent her lifetime in the Warren Consolidated School District. In fact, she says, she’s also a “product of Warren Consolidated” who completed her high school degree with the district and student taught with the district before securing employment at Sterling Heights High School.
In her two decades as an instructor, Denomme has witnessed a lot of changes in the teaching landscape. But one thing has remained the same: Students are top priority.
“It always comes back to the students,” she says. “They are at the core of every decision a teacher makes, and watching them experience any type of growth – whether it’s academic or personal – is always the biggest reward.”
She’s worked hard in recent years to help alleviate the test-taking pressure that’s been put on students. “For me, that’s been one of the biggest challenges – is just trying to work against the societal pressures and the pressure of all the testing they do,” she says.
And it can be particularly tough with her Advanced Placement students.
“They tend to fall into this belief that they have to be smart, they have to be good at everything they do,” she says.
She strives to teach those students to look for small victories and realize they cannot expect to be masters at everything they do.
High school is such a small part of a student’s life, but during this time, Denomme works to teach them valuable lessons – not only in English, but in life.