Odyssey 2018 Annual Report

Swati Patel, Chair, and Veronica Morrissette, Vice Chair 2019 Board of Directors

Ninety thousand hours of out-of-school classroom instruction, twelve thousand free meals, twenty college campus tours, and fourteen years of service to Atlanta's youth these are just a few of the milestones reached for Odyssey in 2018.

In 2018, Odyssey scholars in grades 1-12 clustered in groups brainstorming ideas, debating issues, and designing solutions through the lens of the now fully integrated project-based learning (PBL)/STEAM curriculum. Students practiced daily the 4 Cs of PBL: communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking, while honing their reading brains and mastering complex mathematical concepts.

First-grade Odyssey scholars explored All the Commotion in the Ocean, going behind the scenes at the Atlanta Aquarium to research marine biology, working in groups to design their own fish-friendly aquariums and presenting final products to their parents and the community. The outcome is clear. Odyssey’s highly engaged young people demonstrated an 86% improvement in reading comprehension and an 84% improvement in math as measured by our new Edulastic assessment system.

Meanwhile our 7th-grade class debated their driving question, "What do we do when justice isn't blind?" Students visited the CDC to learn about their own DNA, worked with Atlanta's Police Department to study forensic investigation methods, and designed a full public mock trail to try to the case of the missing prize certificate. Small groups formed to debate difficult topics such as police violence and social media hate speech verses rights to privacy and free speech. Their hard work and research paid off in the results with 95% of students improving their writing and 98% improvement in math.

High school kept a laser focus on the prize of college acceptance. In previous years, rising senior Odyssey scholars took a mock SAT test which was critiqued and followed by a 2nd mock test. In 2018, Odyssey partnered with Applerouth Test Prep to host a week-long ACT boot camp that culminated in the actual ACT test on Saturday. Students were thrilled to see their real scores on the college entrance exam soar. This success was cultivated by college counselors who met with students and their families during the school year as they finalized their college and scholarship applications. Success was demonstrated in the fact that 100% of our scholars graduated high school and 100% were accepted into a university or military service.

Critical to our 2018 success was Odyssey's public-private partnerships with Atlanta Public Schools and The Westminster Schools. These partnerships afforded Odyssey the resources and volunteer labor to offer our students an opportunity to participate in the IT Genius Apple Certification pilot and provide every classroom with a volunteer assistant able to provide students with extra one on one support.

None of this would have been possible without the enthusiastic dedication of our board of trustees and staff. In 2015, Odyssey launched the Heroes program with three donors, giving supporters the opportunity to sponsor one student through a four-year gift of $10,000 ($2,500 per year). In 2018, Odyssey boasted 45 heroes. This sustainable support allowed us to increase our investment in our newly created endowment/reserve fund.

Expanding the ambitions of Atlanta students, empowering them on a successful journey to college and fulfilling career is our mission and we hope you will enjoy learning more about our work in this report.


Swati Patel, Board Chair

Jeff Cohen, Executive Director

Jeff Cohen, Executive Director

2018 Program

Odyssey is a multi-summer educational program serving public school students from among Atlanta’s most economically disadvantaged communities. Our motto is “A quest for knowledge, a path to college.” By preserving academic momentum achieved during the school year, Odyssey promotes ambition towards higher education and inspires a love for life-long learning.

Serving nearly 400 students in grades 1-12, Odyssey offers a six-week, full-day academic program. All programs are offered for only a $35 registration fee as a sign of a family’s commitment, with the rest of the student’s tuition paid by donors. Classes are held on the campus of The Westminster schools. Transportation from local elementary schools or the Arts Center MARTA station is provided, as are lunch and snacks.

Odyssey’s program targets students who may need the extra push, the nurturing environment, and the sense of community that a multi-year summer program like Odyssey can provide. We focus on families from Title I schools for whom education is important and on students who are willing to make the commitment to Odyssey for multiple summers.

Odyssey’s Project Based Learning curriculum exposes students to concepts they cover during the school year, but in a more creative, enriched, and experiential environment. Our goal is to make a measurable impact on the academic achievement, career aspirations, and lives of Odyssey’s students.

2017-2018 Board of Directors

Brian Kirsch, Chair

Swati Patel, Vice Chair

Jackson Bender

Leslie Hazle Bussey

Brian Clark

Rayford L. Davis

Jason F. Esteves

Amy Kim Gira

Ingrid Hayes

Emily Heimermann

Andrew Ibbotson

Catherine Mitchell Jaxon

Scotty Jones

Jennifer Kellett

Jennifer P. Latz

Jason Marshall

Yancey McCollum

Whit McKnight

Richard McPhail

Ashley Miller

Deborah Penley Miller

Marni Mohr

Veronica Morrissette

Robert Ryshke

John F. “Sandy” Smith

Anna Wick

Polly Williams

Steven I. Woodard

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.

2018 Outcomes: A Quest for Knowledge. . .

  • 86% of Odyssey Elementary students improved in reading
  • 100% of Odyssey Elementary and Middle Schools students read a minimum of 2 grade level appropriate books
  • 90% of Odyssey High School students demonstrated writing improvement
  • 98% of Odyssey Middle School students and 79% of High School students met mathematics expectations

...A Path to College

  • 94% of Odyssey students missed 3 days or less during the six week Odyssey program
  • 68% of students had returned from the previous summer
  • 100% of the Odyssey students participating in 12th grade in Summer 2017 graduated from high school

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

Scholar Spotlight

"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 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

“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

“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 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

“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

“It’s my first year at Odyssey. Odyssey is a really cool program, I like it so much more than school, I didn’t think it would be that way. The classes here interest me and the teachers here are so kind. I loved the projects we did in art, I drew for the first time in a long time, during the year I don’t have time for that at my school.”

- Odyssey 10th 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 10th 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 7th 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 9th Annual Brunch was held on February 5, 2018, at the St. Regis Hotel in Buckhead. Chaired by Catherine Flynn and Betsy Meacham, 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, and MetroDerm P.C. Finally, we'd like to thank our Bronze Sponsors, Atlanta Dental Anesthesia, Flynn Law Firm LLC, Georgia Power Company, Kalka & Baer LLC, L & C Wood Family Foundation, Metro Atlanta Ambulance Service, Montgomery Group, N3, Northside Hospital, Quantum Radiology and Sartain Lanier Family Foundation, and media coverage by The Atlantan for helping to make the event a success!

The 2018 Odyssey Scholar Award was presented to Reem Adem, an Odyssey graduate (who attended Odyssey for 10 years), now a junior studying Biology at Georgia State University. Reem and her family moved to Atlanta from Ethiopia when she was two years old, and she shared her inspirational story of how Odyssey has helped shape her into the student she is. She shared, "Here I am, excelling in my college courses, being the best role model I can be for my younger siblings, and working my way up to become Dr. Reem Adem, future pediatrician. Odyssey in some shape or form has provided assistance with every hurdle I have encountered in life and I am set for many more. Among the many categories that Odyssey has assisted me in, I would have to say that the main thing I have taken from my journey is that obtaining success should not be the end of the goal, but helping others get to where you are is what matters the most because without the help of my anonymous supporters, administrators, and directors I would not have been able to attend Odyssey for 10 consecutive years or even be considered to partake in this occasion. Therefore when I receive my Biology degree from Georgia State University and achieve higher excellence, I will aid others to reach my success and beyond through the Odyssey program."

“I give credit to Odyssey because if I had not been given the opportunity to program games, robots, and specialize in creating films, I would have never been as knowledgeable, skilled, and aware of my interest for it. Odyssey has prepared me for the real world, college. Not only did Odyssey give me skills based on academic success, but also personal skills such as confidence, being outgoing and determined.”

-Reem Adem, 2018 Odyssey Scholar Award Recipient

Odyssey 5K Quest Run

The 4th annual Odyssey 5K Run was held on June 16, 2018. Over 175 runners joined us for this event around the scenic campus of The Westminster Schools.

We were grateful to have some of the team from Innercise Yoga 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, Cox Enterprises, Atlanta Orthodontic Specialists, CentreSpring M.D., Enterprise Holdings, MOMAR, Thomas Eye Group, UMI, Baby Pibu, Network1, WestStride, Its Your Race, The Coca-Cola Company, Innercise Yoga, Pero's Pizza and army of volunteers who helped make the event a fun, safe, and successful morning!

Thank you to the Quest Run Sponsors

Odysseus Level


Summa Cum Laude Level


Magna Cum Laude Level

Atlanta Orthodontic Specialist | CentreSpring M.D.

Cum Laude Level

Enterprise Holdings | MOMAR | Thomas Eye Group

Honors Level

Baby Pibu | Network 1 Consulting | UMI

In Kind Products/ Services

The Coca-Cola Company | Innercise Yoga | Its Your Race | Pero's Pizza | West Stride

Thank you to our In-Kind Partners

West Stride | The Coca-Cola Company | Westminster

Its Your Race | Innercise Yoga | Peros Pizza | King of Pops

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 First 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.

2018 Heroes

Comer & Brandon Aebersold

Corrie & Aaron Alford

Trameka & Jerome Bettis

Ginny & Charles Brewer

Marnee Byrd

Millay & Bill Chappell

Lane & Richard W. Courts IV

Dione & Rayford Davis

Hanno and Carmen Ekdahl

Mary Kent & Jeremy Ellis

Tyler & Eleanor Fann

Jacqueline Flake & Dave Dase

Reema & Kris Gillian

Amy Kim Gira & John Gira

Margie & Barry Goheen

Rebecca & Sanjay Gupta

Rand & Seth Hagen

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

Marni and Julian Mohr, Jr.

Veronica Morrissette & Vince Gresham

Jason Moattar

Christina Narhi & Michael Nies

Stacey & Davis Noell

Ami Patel

Swati & Rahul Patel

Alden & Carter Potts

Michelle & Pete Quinones

Edith & Michael Rogers

Mary & Kristian Schwartz

Kathryn Simms

Steve & Kimberly Tye

Rod Westmoreland

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

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 Historic 4th Ward Park, Oakland Cemetery, the Sweet Auburn district, as well as institutions like the Dekalb County Courthouse, 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

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