Hanna receives School Bell Award
Jim Hanna helps students find answers when often times there is not one correct answer.
He served as the Odyssey of the Mind and Destination Imagination manager since 1987 when is daughter was in fifth grade. Despite his daughter being gone from the program, he still continues to be a manager.
For this dedication, Hanna is this year’s School Bell winner. The School Bell award is given to someone in the community for his or her service to youth of Columbus Public Schools.
“At a time when it is difficult to even get parents to volunteer to help with an activity their child is in, Jim is as eager to get started as the students,” said CHS Destination Imagination advisor Carol Hess who nominated him.
As a manager, Hanna has a team of anywhere from two to seven members. The students select a challenge to solve for the competition. He than meets with team in the evening and helps them to understand the challenge they are trying to solve.
“My daughter was in the gifted program, and Mrs. (Marcella) Hauser, the gifted teacher, was a very good arm twister,” he joked about how he first became involved. “After that, I had the bug. I think it is an amazing program for any kid.”
Hanna admits the uniqueness of the event and the challenge keeps him coming back year after year.
“Most of what students are taught is to be convergent thinkers,” said Hanna. “The real world is a lot more messy than that. In this case, there is not one right answer.”
Hanna has coached teams at the elementary through the high school level, and they each have their challenges. The elementary teams are overflowing with ideas but often have trouble thinking at the higher level. The middle school students also have many ideas as well as the more critical thinking skills, and the high school students have more difficulty coming up with original ideas.
“They find when they work in groups they develop more and better ideas than you can come up on your own,” Hanna said about the challenge of getting people to work together as a team.
Parent Trina Jeffryes, who has two children on a team, said this is what makes Hanna a good manager.
“DI kids are a special group from all walks of life and every kind of background, but when Mr. Hanna has them together, they are one and differences are set aside,” she said. “He creates unity and a safe environment where everyone feels respected.”
Hanna has managed a lot of students over the years earning a trip to the Global Finals eight or nine times. Once again, this year he will be taking a middle school team to compete in Knoxville TN May 21-24. This year’s CMS team members included: Aeriel Frey, Alexis and Paige Jeffryes, Lydia Johnson, Cole Mitchell, Haley Wagoner and Nick Warner.
“He was a mentor to us in the truest sense of the word,” said former DI team member Stephen Wilke and 2006 graduate of CHS. “He empowered us to take ownership of our work, rather than micromanaging all of the team’s tasks and activities. During my high school years, he helped me grow in confidence, leadership and love for creative problem solving.”
Current team member Lydia Johnson agreed.
“He likes kids and is a patient teacher. He keeps us on track and lets us do things for ourselves,” she said.
Hanna has always stressed to the teams that winning isn’t everything.
“It is important to win, but if you give it your honest to do best, then you can’t go wrong,” he said.