Lisa Garrett honored with Staff Excellence Award
by Kim Mathie (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A key staff person for the theatre department, Lisa Garrett does not seek the spotlight. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t find her. Garrett was recently honored with a Staff Excellence Award for her contributions as administrative secretary for the Theatre Department.
“I knew about the award but had no idea that I would come anywhere close,” admits Garrett. “I was pleasantly surprised when Dr. Gibson called me. I felt really honored.”
The annual Staff Excellence Award is given to Sam Houston State University employees who have demonstrated excellence in service, commitment, meritorious performance and a high level of motivation. Garrett was one of four recipients. The other three include Debbie Henriksen of the agriculture and industrial sciences department; Karyl Horn of the payroll and tax specialization department; and Lori Rose of the biological sciences department.
Soft spoken and humble, it wasn’t until Garrett read comments from the nominations that she fully understood the impact she made on the theatre department and continues to make on a daily basis.
“The comments really blew me away,” says Garrett.
Fortunately, Garrett was the only one surprised. Theater Department Chair Penelope Hasekoester always believed.
“Lisa creates a cohesiveness and generosity that extends to the students, faculty, staff and our patrons that makes everything in our department work,” says Hasekoester. “It’s a well-deserved award. She works very, very hard."
Associate Chair Thomas Prior agrees.
“Lisa brings compassion and a sense that ‘things are being taken care of’ to the department,” says Prior. “She juggles so many balls in the front office and manages to keep a sense of humor, which is infectious.”
One of the nominations listed all of Garrett’s possible “titles” to illustrate the breadth of work she does for the department: “Secretary, accountant, business manager, office manager, production manager, student staff supervisor, psychologist, negotiator, party planner ... How is it possible for one person to serve so many? We all are subject to the same number of hours in a day, yet Lisa somehow keeps an overactive theatrical production company humming along.”
For Garrett, it’s all in a day’s work, in an environment she belongs in.
“I just love it,” says Garrett.
Raised in Houston, Texas, Garrett has lived in Huntsville for more than thirty years. Her husband Robert is a film and video specialist for the College of Education. Garrett has two children—Kristine and Ryan and four grandchildren. She’s worked for Sam Houston State University for more than twenty-one years, the last three in the Theater Department.
“From the beginning I’ve felt that I belonged here,” says Garrett. “That I was meant to be here.”
Despite coming from a different working environment, the transition was seamless.
“I’ve always had an interest in theatre “ says Garrett. “And I have a lot of friends and family who are theatre people or professional artists so it wasn’t difficult for me to fit right in.”
As someone who wears many hats and has a lot of responsibilities, Garrett credits her work experience for preparing her to take on any task that needs to be done. But more than that, she credits the people who work in the Theatre Department.
We are like one big family,” says Garrett. “Everyone bonds, especially the students.”
And it’s the students who are, by far, the highlights to Garrett’s days.
“The students here are so energetic and passionate and have such high energy,” says Garrett. “When I go through the lobby, I never know what I’m going to run into; it’s always different!”
But what doesn’t change is the quality of work on the stage.
“The caliber of our shows is something I’m very proud of,” says Garrett. “Our faculty and students really put their all into it.”
Garrett’s even considered joining them in class, as an auditor, but instead chooses to get her creative fix another way.
“My creative outlet is just being involved with students,” says Garrett. “I feed off their creativity.”
And then, of course, there’s the occasional improvisation with colleagues and students during some down time in the office.
“We like to do accents,” says Garrett with a smile. “British ones mainly.”