Lisa Johns Wells, 51, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly due to complications from pneumonia during the early morning hours of Saturday, May 18, 2013 at her home in Jacksonville, FL. She was born at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina to Curtis and Faye Johns while her father was stationed at there. At the end of her father's military career in 1966, he brought his family to Jacksonville where Curtis and Faye settled and raised their two daughters. Lisa attended Ramona Elementary and graduated from Ed White High School in 1979. She went on to earn a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education and a Master's degree in Elementary Education and Reading at the University of North Florida.
Lisa began her 30-year career in Duval County Public Schools teaching a class of Kindergarteners at Brentwood Elementary. She later moved to West Riverside Elementary where she was named Teacher of the Year and again taught Kindergarten before training as a first grade reading interventionist in the Reading Recovery program. Excelling in that role, Lisa accepted an opportunity to attend a year-long residency program at The Ohio State University to earn credentials as a Reading Recovery Teacher Leader. In 2001, she returned to Duval County to coordinate all aspects of the Reading Recovery program which included teaching children, providing professional development workshops, and training Reading Recovery teachers as an adjunct professor at the University of North Florida, then later at Jacksonville University. In 2007, she joined the Academic Services department as an elementary literacy specialist where she provided support to Duval County's elementary teachers, coaches, and principals in addition to developing and conducting professional development sessions in support of the district's literacy initiatives. Lisa recently chose to reconnect with the day-to-day lives of young children by joining the faculty at Pickett Elementary as a first grade classroom teacher. Over the past five months, friends and family were treated to her animated stories about the young children in her charge. She radiated immeasurable happiness and considered it a privilege to make a positive contribution shaping the lives of her students.
Lisa was the immediate Past-President of the Duval County Reading Council, an organization of more than 1,700 educators interested in literacy. She served as the organization's president in 2011-12 after volunteering in many roles over the years. Under her direction, DCRC continued its mission of offering members the opportunity to learn from nationally recognized speakers in addition to participating in literacy projects to support the local Hubbard House and the international Pennies for Peace campaign, to name a few. Poise, grace, and a smile that stretched for miles were her hallmark characteristics. Her leadership, camaraderie, and friendship will be greatly missed.
Lisa was preceded in death by her beloved father, Curtis Johns, in 2011, and her grandparents, Rozier and Mary Ausley of NC and Audley and Lura Johns of Jacksonville.
She is survived by her devoted husband, Sam, who was the love of her life and best friend. She is also survived by her loving mother, Edith Faye Johns, her sister, Kathy Marshman, brother-in-law, Rick, (all of Jacksonville) and adored nephew, Ross (Tallahassee), and a multitude of dear friends who are grieving the loss of this special lady who enriched their lives in so many ways.
Lisa and Sam roamed Florida and Georgia on the weekends in pursuit of spontaneous adventures that satisfied their love of life and all things about nature. While they occasionally took longer vacations, day trips were their specialty as they squeezed fun-filled explorations into their busy schedules. Lisa wasn't one to sit around and watch the world go by; she wanted to take advantage of what life had to offer and felt so blessed to be taking that journey with Sam.
She was fascinated with many creatures in the wild, especially manatees, spoonbills, and sea turtles. Friends knew that Lisa had arrived ahead of them when they spotted her car with the Help Save the Sea Turtles tag already in the parking lot. She shared this passion with her first graders by adopting a sea turtle for the class through the National Save the Sea Turtle Foundation. During the last weeks of her life, paper plate sea turtles adorned the walls of the hallway near her classroom with captions written by the children to share their new learning with visitors.
Few individuals in this world are fortunate enough to be called a close and special friend by so many people as was Lisa. She was respected in her professional life for her knowledge, expertise, and integrity; and cherished in her personal life as a kind, trustworthy, and all-round convivial person. She could light up any room with her smile.
Those who loved her will never understand why she had to leave us so soon; but we do know that while on this earth Lisa Wells made a difference.
"Think where man's glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends." - William Butler Yeats
A celebration of life service will be held on Thursday, May 23, 2013 at 11:00 am at Westside Baptist Church located at 7775 Herlong Rd., Jax. FL 32210; reception to follow. Pastor Tommy Mallard officiating. Burial service is private. Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Hardage-Giddens Town and Country Funeral Home located at 7242 Normandy Blvd., Jax., FL 32205. Please sign the online guest book at www.townandcountryfuneralhome.com
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Reading Recovery Council of North America or the National Save the Sea Turtle Foundation.