Your Neighbor: Meet Lisa Siokis

Published 12:05 am Thursday, February 15, 2024

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By Mandy Haggerson

For the Clemmons Courier

Growing up as the oldest child with three brothers, Lisa Siokis wasn’t scared to step outside of her comfort zone.

“We all had our interests and activities that we enjoyed. I learned from a young age that mine was being a dancer. I loved the physical exertion from it. I also appreciated the camaraderie of my friends because you have a dance family. I joined the West Forsyth dance team, the Titanides, and never once missed a football game throughout high school,” Siokis said.

Even though Siokis was very committed to dancing, she was equally as committed to her academics.

“I loved reading. I loved working hard in school. It was something that was encouraged at home, too. Our family would recharge together in the evenings with dinner together,” Siokis said.

One of those dinner conversations included what she would study when she went off to college.

“I always knew that I wanted to do something with children. I really thought teaching would be a good option to make a difference. I decided to study history when I went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As much as I loved writing and books, I also decided to minor in creative writing. I realized pretty quickly that I wanted to continue my education after my undergraduate program,” Siokis said.

After Siokis graduated, she decided that she would spread her wings a bit further than North Carolina.

“I moved to New York City and lived with a former college roommate. At that point, I just wanted to experience something new,” said the Clemmons native. “I was offered a contracting job at Rough Guides Publishing. They offered me a full-time position once that contract was over. However, I decided to work at a law firm instead. Their area of focus was music. It was exhilarating. I loved the intensity of it. They handled the majority of musical contracts in New York City. What was really fascinating was getting to meet so many talented people and going to a lot of shows.”

Although Siokis’ time at the law firm was a great learning experience, she knew after two years she wanted to go back to school. She decided to head back to Clemmons and start graduate school at Salem College. “I wanted to earn my master’s in the Art of Teaching, which was a part-time program,” notes Siokis. “When I began the process of looking for programs, I had also met my future husband, Gus,” smiles Siokis. “So, during that time, I had started dating him while he was still living in the Washington, D.C. area. We had actually met years prior to running into each other again.”

With Siokis starting her graduate program, because it was part time, she was also able to student teach.

“I knew that I wanted to teach high school students. I loved history, of course, and I loved language arts. I had a wonderful supervisor during my student teaching, Marilyn Mercer. She loved Latin, and her best friend was a Latin teacher,” Siokis said. “Joyce Henson, a department chair, was also instrumental in shaping my opportunities in education. She, Becky Hampton, and Dr. Marjorie Anderson really took me under their wing to inspire me to go into the direction of teaching Latin. I was hesitant at first. They reminded me of my study abroad experiences, my appreciation of the classics, and that English teachers with a history background were given the tools to help with sentence structure and language in general. They reassured me that I would be able to teach kids how to parse the language because it’s very systematic and grammar-based. I figured I would trust these ladies who were quite a force in education, and I admired them tremendously.”

While completing her graduate program and teaching, Siokis also welcomed her first child, Dafi, 13.

“At that point, I was teaching Latin at Reagan High School. I decided to stop teaching when he was first born and finish up my graduate studies. Then, I got pregnant with our second child, Vasoula (11). Around the same time that we found out we were expecting again, my mom got cancer. When I went into labor with my daughter, my mom was also in the hospital because the cancer had spread. My mom passed away once my daughter was born. It was a very sad and painful time losing my mom. My children helped bring joy into my life which helped with distracting me from my grief,” Siokis said.

Once her children got older, Siokis decided to go back to work part-time at Hanes Magnet School teaching Latin.

“The hours were pretty flexible, so I was still able to spend time with the kids when they were done with school, too,” Siokis said. “After a year at Hanes, I took a position at Forsyth Country Day School in the Johnson Academic Center for tutoring. I really love tutoring students and getting to work with them one-on-one to help build confidence and reach their potential.” After getting back into teaching, Siokis was offered a position at Reynolds High School but chose to stay at Forsyth Country Day School. “I loved the community feel at Forsyth. My children were there, it was exactly what I needed,” explains Siokis.

Because of Siokis, the Latin program was revamped and now has levels I through IV, including AP Latin options. Currently, Siokis teaches Latin at various levels.

“In my free time, I also enjoy writing. One day, I would like to try and publish, too. I even like to dabble in poetry,” Siokis said. “Although free time isn’t something there is much of these days with how busy the kids’ lives are. We spend a lot of time at the soccer field watching Vasoula and Dafi play. I enjoy it so much, though, because they are both very passionate about it. That’s the greatest gift, seeing your kids do something they enjoy.”