At Group Travel Network, we feel that everyone who crosses our path is intended to become a welcomed member of our extended family. These individuals come in many forms including clients, vendors, colleagues and more. We are so proud of our family, we decided to share some of the backgrounds to some of these incredible people. Each month we are going to spotlight a member of our family tree. One such GTN Family Member has been an inspiration to us from day one!
Educator Spotlight - Liz Savage
Colquitt County High School Band has a decorated past and a bright future ahead in large part to their outstanding and hardworking director, Liz Savage! In the 6 years Liz has been Director of Bands, Colquitt County High School, has continuously received superior ratings in all marching festivals. The symphonic band and concert band have also consistently performed with superior ratings at Georgia Bandmaster's Concert Festival while under Liz’s direction. Liz has now been teaching for 16 years after discovering her passion for music and education while attending Pope High School. It was there that she found that her biggest mentors were her high school band directors. She credits Alfred Watkins, Sue Samuels, Gary Gribble and David Starnes for being “TOP NOTCH!” and for being incredible mentors and teachers at different times in her life. Liz went on to Jacksonville State University where she was section leader, student staff, and participated in the Chamber Winds.
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During the past 16 years as a music educator, she recalls two (AU-some) moments that really stick out. In 2016, one of her students was selected as the Colquitt County STAR student, and in turn, the STAR student chose Liz Savage as the STAR teacher! “To know that student saw and believed in what I do daily and trusted in the process of what we do was a huge honor,” stated Liz. Then in 2017, she had the incredible opportunity to mentor a graduating college student who started in 6th grade beginning band with Liz, 12 years prior. To have the opportunity to see a student’s progress from beginning band, throughout middle school, high school and finally help cap off her college experience was indescribable. Introducing the college student on stage for her final concert was a proud feeling Liz will never, ever forget. One can see the passion that she has for all of her students, because she says she wants them to know that no matter what direction their life goes post-high school, that she will always be there to help guide, mentor, or push them to be the best version of themselves that they can be.
Liz’s current band is fairly young. In fact in 2016, they had over double the average amount of freshmen sign up for band, and Colquitt County HS found themselves lacking enough instruments. Liz had asked band alumni, the people of Moultrie, and of all of South Georgia to donate their instruments so every student can have one of their own. Liz encouraged donators, especially band alumni, to leave a note inside the instruments case that said, 'I was in band. This was my experience. Have this and take this with you,’ just to encourage kids not to let it go. She acknowledges how band and music can change young lives, and she didn’t want a single hopeful student to lose the amazing opportunity that band provides.
When asked about her favorite travel experience, we become teary-eyed at her answer. It wasn’t a place or a feeling, but an individual- our individual, the late Jeff Lilley. Liz credits Jeff to helping keep her together on her first group travel performance to Philadelphia and NYC. She was terrified- so many kids in two large cities and her first major travel performance- who wouldn’t be?! But Jeff Lilley reassured her that the trip was going to go perfectly and constantly made sure she had everything she needed to make the trip positive and successful. From then on, she always had Jeff as her school’s GTN Service Host, because she believes the best travel experience was “The Jeff Lilley Experience”. We agree, Liz, and our Group Travel Network family will always be inspired by him and strive to be like him.
You could call the Colquitt County High School a family environment, as Liz’s husband of almost 10 years, Aaron, is the band’s Percussion instructor. They have two beautiful boys, Jaxon (age 6) and Cooper (age 2). As a family of four, they enjoy visiting Orlando theme parks, going to Sunset Beach in North Carolina and having a fun and educational time with their kids. In the mornings, Liz typically drinks 2 cups of coffee before starting her productive school days and keeps a fairly laid-back family lifestyle. But on Tuesday nights, you can find her up late and crying her eyes out to the TV show This Is Us. We at Group Travel Network are proud to call Liz, family and sincerely appreciate her approach to life and teaching. She could help us write a book on organization and effective student group management! Liz is always organized and makes being on-time a priority. Her advice to future educators is to never stop learning and to always be prepared! To give three times more energy than you expect from your students (probably possible from her daily intake of coffee!) and with everything that you do - do it with a purpose! Thank you Liz!!!