Odyssey 2019 Annual Report

Veronica Morrissette, Chair, and Andrew Ibbotson, Vice Chair 2020 Board of Directors

Dear Odyssey Supporter,

In 2019 Odyssey passed many milestones. As our 500th graduate enrolled in college, our redesigned Project Based Learning and S.T.E.A.M--science, technology, engineering, arts and math--curriculum was fully integrated.

Importantly, the number of our $10,000 multi-year donors, affectionately known as Odyssey Heroes, topped 60! Also noteworthy, in connection with Atlanta’s 2019 Super Bowl, Odyssey was selected to receive the “Immaculate Reception” award of $85,000.

In addition to our STEAM curriculum, each class has an extra project known as a “driving question.” For example, the Second graders driving question was, “How can we, similar to the Native Americans of Georgia, use the land to help our community?” Fifth-grade students focused on the complexities of the Civil Rights Movement and Social Change with the driving question, “How can we use music, media, and literature to convey the emotional complexity of the Civil Rights Movement and Social Change.” Our Eighth-grade expanded their financial literacy component to explore how economic development can drive social change.

Our high school program has continued to focus on graduation and higher education. Students visited 12 college campuses while working with a writing coach to complete their common application for college admissions. Additionally, Odyssey expanded its Career Quest, where small groups of Odyssey scholars have the unique opportunity to participate in boardroom style discussions with various professionals.

We have also expanded our leadership team by adding our first Senior Program Director who will upgrade our year-round programming, expand the mentoring and alumni programs, and ensure our Project Based Learning curriculum aligns with Odyssey’s strategic plan.

The question is, where do we go from here? In 2019 we began work on a new strategic plan to answer this question. Our new strategic plan will be finalized in 2020. In the coming months we will share with you the details of this exciting new plan.

We thank our families, supporters, and partners--Atlanta Public Schools and Westminster--for helping us create a best in class model that provides our scholars access to the resources and tools to broaden their knowledge and hone their skills to exceed their expectations. We hope you will enjoy learning more about our work in the attached annual report.


Veronica Morrissette, Board Chair

Jeff Cohen, Executive Director

Jeff Cohen, Executive Director

2018-2019 Board of Directors

Swati Patel, Chair

Veronica Morrissette, Vice Chair

Jackson Bender

Trameka Bettis

Leslie Hazle Bussey

Brian Clark

Jason F. Esteves

Rhonda Fischer

Rob Hardy

Ingrid Hayes

Emily Heimermann

Andrew Ibbotson

Catherine Mitchell Jaxon

Scotty Jones

Jennifer Kellett

Amy Kim Gira

Jennifer P. Latz

Jason Marshall

Whit McKnight

Richard McPhail

Ashley Miller

Marni Mohr

Michael Rogers

Robert Ryshke

Anna Wick

Polly Williams

Program Evaluation

SMART Objectives for the Odyssey Program Evaluation are statements that clearly define success for Odyssey. Meeting these objectives is what Odyssey aspires to accomplish. The acronym SMART is used to help develop objectives that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Odyssey tests each student at the beginning and the end of the program to determine academic growth within our SMART objectives. Each student is examined based on state teaching standards for their grade level. Ultimately, we strive to prepare each student for the curriculum they face in the upcoming year.

2019 Outcomes: A Quest for Knowledge. . .

  • 80% of Odyssey Elementary students improved in reading
  • 100% of Odyssey Elementary and Middle Schools students read a minimum of 2 grade level appropriate books
  • 78% of Odyssey High School students demonstrated writing improvement

...A Path to College

  • 96% of Odyssey students missed 3 days or less during the six week Odyssey program
  • 61% of students had returned from the previous summer
  • 100% of the Odyssey students participating in 12th grade in Summer 2018 graduated from high school

A comprehensive Odyssey SMART Objectives Report is available on our website.

Scholar Spotlight

“I have been here since I was in Odyssey Elementary. Every year Odyssey allows me to experience new opportunities. It is phenomenal. Odyssey is filled with supportive teachers who are here for each one of us on our summer journey. The high school program taught me teamwork skills.”

- Odyssey 9th Grader

“This is my 5th year at Odyssey. Odyssey grants me a head start at education. I know that when I am a senior and I will receive free ACT testing as well as the opportunity to visit colleges. I can’t wait for those experiences.”

-Odyssey 9th Grader

“Odyssey is a great experience, I love coming here everyday to see what new things we will do, it’s an amazing way to spend my summer”

-Odyssey 9th Grader

“This is my 8th year at Odyssey. I’ve made a bunch of new friends and every year we come back to experience Odyssey together. It’s not just the learning that is amazing, it is the people I have here, we are a family. I definitely learned a lot during my summers here, especially in Math. I learn things that I know will put me ahead of my class when I return to school in the at the end of the summer.”

- Odyssey 10th Grader

“When I grow up, I want to be a veterinarian, at Odyssey we had the experience of reading to therapy dogs at the Mayor's Summer Reading Club reading fair! It was very cool, I’m not sure if the dogs were listening but they laid down quietly. I’ve read to dogs one other time, only at Odyssey. At Odyssey we made cool projects in science and art, I also only got to experience that at Odyssey! We do have science and art during the year but we don’t create projects.”

-Odyssey 4th Grader

“I love science, it’s always something new everyday. We got to build a boat and then we tested what would make it float! It’s been a fun summer, I was excited to come.”

-Odyssey 1st Grader

“Odyssey prepares me for the next year, it allows me to meet more people, make new friends, and experience new opportunities. It allows me to become a better student and person.”

- Odyssey 8th Grader

“I love the way the teachers socialize with us, they do fun things with us and push the way we think about something to interest us in the topic. I love how much time we spend outdoors at Odyssey, during the school year we mostly stay in the building.”

-Odyssey 6th Grader

“When I grow up I want to be an entrepreneur and a robotics engineer. Tomorrow we are having a Shark Tank, I’m going to present my app idea that I built at Odyssey. I created a database searching app that allows you to compare and contrast different items that one searches. At Odyssey I was granted opportunities to enhance my skills, learn new things, and visit new places. I can’t wait to come back next summer.”

-Odyssey 8th Grader

Our Donors

The costs of running Odyssey each summer are significant, but we are able to provide a best-in-class experiences to our students each summer through the incredible generosity of corporations, foundations, and individuals who donate financial resources, time, and in-kind support.

The Atlanta Public Schools provides many of the teachers for our program, support in recruiting students, access to educational data, and significant transportation assistance.

The Westminster Schools hosts all Odyssey programs provides in-kind donations in the form of facilities, technical assistance, and support services.


The Annual Brunch is Odyssey’s primary fundraising event of the year. The 10th Annual Brunch was held on February 11, 2019, at the St. Regis Hotel in Buckhead. Chaired by Jen Bennecke and Mary Schwartz, the event brought together more than 550 Atlantans who share our commitment to educational access for all of Atlanta’s youth. It was a warm and festive morning including a networking brunch and raffle. Along with our Presenting Sponsor, The Home Depot Foundation, we were proud and grateful to partner with our Platinum Sponsor, The Coca-Cola Company, as well as Silver Sponsors, The Bus Stops Here Foundation, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Georgia Properties, Dorsey Alston Realtors, Metro Atlanta Ambulance Service, MetroDerm P.C., and N3. Finally, we'd like to thank our Bronze Sponsors, Atlanta Dental Anesthesia, Brown & Co. Jewelers, CentrespringMD, GLISI, The Hand & Upper Extremity Center of Georgia, Kalka & Baer LLC, L & C Wood Family Foundation, The Montgomery Group, Northside Hospital, and Quantum Radiology!

The 2019 Odyssey Scholar Award was presented to Jared Bailey and Taylor Walker. Taylor, a reporter in New Orleans shared her Odyssey experience and stated, "What is it that makes Odyssey so compelling? Perhaps, it is the passion everyone has for Westminster’s good lemonade? Or the anticipation of the Odyssey’s summer theme? There has to be a reason that kids and teenagers are excited to head into a classroom during the summer – to be bold enough to wake up early, I mean EARLY, and catch that morning Marta train to Arts Center Station. I think it is the thirst to try to do something that has never been done before- and trust me when I say Odyssey has challenged students to do just that every single year."

Jared Bailey, a Sophomore Biology Major at Morehouse College, shared "In addition to me attending this program, my older brother and sisters, Seth, Sarai and Faith Bailey, all graduated from Odyssey. They are now successfully pursuing their careers and higher education. Personally, I started this program in the third grade, and every summer I looked forward to attending Odyssey… the most enjoyable summers I could have ever had. It gave me opportunities that I would have not been introduced to if it wasn't for the program’s mission, “A quest for knowledge, is a path to college.” He reflected on the impact Odyssey has had, and his desire to pay it forward, "So today, thanks to Odyssey introducing the importance of scholarship, financial aid, and higher education, I am able to receive a full scholarship to Morehouse College. More specifically, I am a recipient of the Bonner Scholarship, which allows me to give back to the Atlanta community through volunteer work. With a great passion for helping others, I have had the ability to pass on the valuable lessons and wisdom that Odyssey instilled within me through the years. Having the opportunity to mentor and teach others what was taught to me by the program’s lovable staff has changed the lives of many individuals. Odyssey’s investment in me is paying back many times over in the community. Through my role as a public speaker, I am able to instill the importance of pursuing higher education and attaining scholarships in others. Thank you, Odyssey, for the opportunity to receive, and also to give."

"Each year, Odyssey students come in with a totally new and challenging blank slate. They work with each other and the Odyssey staff to create the puzzle pieces and then put that puzzle together. They execute the theme, getting more alert not just for college but the world beyond and it is a quest. It is a vision. It is a journey that is reflected in our actions every single day."

-Taylor Walker, 2019 Odyssey Scholar Award Recipient

Odyssey 5K Quest Run

The 5th annual Odyssey 5K Run was held on June 15, 2019. Over 250 runners joined us for this event around the scenic campus of The Westminster Schools.

We were grateful to have some of the team from CrossfitEX lead in stretching and preparing the runners (of all ages) before the race began. After tackling the hilly, chipped-time course on a hot summer morning, runners were treated with cheers from Odyssey’s students along the course, and King of Pops across the finish line. Special thanks to our sponsors, UPS, Riveron, Cox Enterprises, Dorsey Alston, OnePath Local, Homework Coach, Ratings.MD, Brighter Sustainable & Impact Investing, Enterprise Holdings, Atlanta Orthodontic Specialists, Baby Pibu, Beth Bristow Tutorial Services, WestStride, Its Your Race, The Coca-Cola Company, Pero's Pizza and army of volunteers who helped make the event a fun, safe, and successful morning!

Odyssey Heroes are given the unique opportunity to engage with our Odyssey students and witness first-hand the growth and development exhibited year after year. They receive periodic class updates, participate in the end-of-summer presentations and attend the exclusive Senior Graduation Celebration.

This year, Rod Westmoreland hosted the Second Annual Heroes Celebration. Odyssey Heroes know the value of education and the impact it has on changing the trajectory of an entire family. Their commitment is demonstrated by a pledge of $2500 donated annually for four years. What was started with the commitment of four generous donors, has now grown to a thriving program with over 75 Hero commitments.

2019 Heroes

Comer & Brandon Aebersold

Corrie & Aaron Alford

Susan & Brian Banner

Robert & Joanna Benson

Trameka & Jerome Bettis

Barbara Bing & Stuart Pliner

Brand Properties

Ginny & Charles Brewer

Marnee Byrd

Millay & Bill Chappell

Lane & Richard W. Courts IV

Dione & Rayford Davis

Reed and Roberta Deupree

Hanno and Carmen Ekdahl

Mary Kent & Jeremy Ellis

Tyler & Eleanor Fann

Jacqueline Flake & Dave Dase

Reema & Kris Gillian

Amy Kim Gira & John Gira

Frank & Nancy Glover

Margie & Barry Goheen

Rebecca & Sanjay Gupta

Rand & Seth Hagen

Franco Harris & Lydell Mitchell

Louise Moore

Caroline & Bernard Heffernan

Anne Park & Matt Hopkins

Nicole & Andrew Ibbotson

Catherine & J.J. Jaxon

Chambless & Tony Kalka

Sarah & Brian Kirsch

Carrie & Whit Lanier

Barbara Levy & Emily Levy Heimermann

Patricia & William Lummus

Yancey & John McCollum

Jamila & Whitcliff Altamond McKnight, Jr.

Elizabeth & Geoff Meacham

Ashley & Prescott Miller

Deborah & Bruce Miller

Mrs. Nadia Mohammed & Dr. Khalid Shash

Marni and Julian Mohr, Jr.

Veronica Morrissette & Vince Gresham

Jason Moattar

Christina Narhi & Michael Nies

Stacey & Davis Noell

Ami Patel

Komal Patel

Swati & Rahul Patel

Alden & Carter Potts

Michelle & Pete Quinones

Carol Rice

Adam and Britt Richards

Edith & Michael Rogers

Mary & Kristian Schwartz

Kathryn Simms

Steve & Kimberly Tye

Rod Westmoreland

Anna & Warren Wick

Odyssey's mission is to expand the ambitions of Atlanta students and empower them on a successful journey to college and a fulfilling career.

Immaculate Reception

Odyssey was given a once-in-a lifetime opportunity made possible by board member Trameka Bettis and her husband, Jerome. Trameka and Jerome introduced Odyssey to Pittsburgh Steeler Hall of Fame great, Franco Harris. Football fans may recall Franco’s famous 1972 immaculate reception play against the Oakland Raiders.

Each year, Franco, along with NFL great Lydell Mitchell, host an Immaculate Reception Dinner, which is an invitation-only, six-course meal in the city where the Super Bowl is played. Approximately 30 current and former NFL players are invited along with local community leaders.

We are incredibly grateful that we were selected as the honored recipients for the Immaculate Reception dinner hosted by Franco Harris and Lydell Mitchell this year. One of our very own Odyssey Scholars, Micheal Barlow, got to share his story with everyone in attendance, and even chose to give his hard-earned West Point Challenge Coins to Franco and Lydell.

Odyssey Field Trips

While the majority of Odyssey’s academic learning takes place in the classrooms on the Westminster Campus, field trips and career exploration are an important part of Odyssey’s work. Students got to visit historical sites in Atlanta, such as the Capital Building, Oakland Cemetery, CCN Center, as well as institutions like the High Museum of Art, Atlanta Botanical Gardens, Blue Heron Nature Center, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, the King Center, and more! Odyssey high schoolers also get to participate in College Tours as 11th graders.

1424 West Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta GA 30327

404.367.5150 | wwww.odysseyatlanta.org |

Created By
Stephanie Alvarez