“Good morning, Melissa!” With her voice ringing as if it were the brightest of bells, Lisa McCleish has welcomed each student and family by name at our preschool door for 17 years as the Director of Early Childhood Programs. No matter sweltering heat or shivering cold, Lisa’s gleeful smile and genuine affection beamed a greeting that began every day with the joy and anticipation that fills her own heart and has graced our programs. What’s even more amazing is at the end of the day, her bright eyes and those quick little steps were just as energetic when she bid each child, “See you tomorrow!”
If you only knew Lisa from observing her with students, families, and her dedicated teachers and staff, you were certainly grateful for every opportunity to see her in action. Her ability to seamlessly transform whatever task needed to be done – maybe pick up a toy or put on a coat – into a moment of discovery and accomplishment for a child was truly remarkable. She effectively modeled that skill for both parents and staff.
Some of us also had the sad responsibility of coordinating with Lisa when tragedy would befall a family. The bereaved were, of course, grateful for and comforted by her consolation. But beyond that, Lisa exuded a kind of “you’re going to get through this” resilience, a gift to families rooted in her own experience and deep faith.
Down through the years, that same faith has filled Lisa’s heart with love for every one of God’s children and fueled her pursuit of compassionate and effective ways to provide for their well-being and development. As sad as we are to bid adieu to our dear friend and colleague, we celebrate her new role with the Kansas City Public Schools and her continual pursuit of that goal for which she is so perfectly gifted and clearly called by God.