At the beginning of the new year, Head of School David Mahler recognized two members of the ODA community for their outstanding service and commitment to Out-of-Door. This week features Michael Salmon’s 10-year anniversary at ODA.
“I came to ODA because of the community,” says Mr. Michael Salmon, when asked what originally drew him to Out-of-Door. While working in the admissions office at Hamilton College more than a decade ago, Mr. Salmon had the opportunity to visit ODA during the fall travel season. “The students, college counseling team, and community made me feel right at home.” This first experience at the Uihlein Campus made a lasting impression.
When Mr. Michael Salmon joined the two-person college counseling team in 2010, the size of ODA’s student body was modest, with graduating classes ranging from 55-60 students each year. That same year, Thunder Stadium opened, enrollment began to swell, and the Arts Center completed its first year in operation. With the growth of the school, faculty and staff took on additional roles as opportunities arose.
During his first few years, Mr. Salmon wanted to contribute to ODA in ways that would benefit the students and the community. While working as the Associate Director of College Counseling, he partnered with local schools to create the Tampa Bay Case Studies program and assisted in running the Commencement and Convocation ceremonies, two of ODA’s cherished all-school traditions.
Knowing of his aquatics background as a NCAA champion diver, Mr. Mahler asked Mr. Salmon if he would be interested in coaching the Thunder swim team in 2011. Mr. Salmon dedicated himself to learning the science and technique needed to successfully lead the Thunder swimmers.
“I had the great fortune of working with an incredible coaching staff, including Mr. Robert Naylor. Coaching with Mr. Naylor has been a tremendous honor, privilege, and highlight in my educational career. It is our time together on the deck that reinforced and cemented my reason for working in education.”
Mr. Salmon says that support and friendship from colleagues has been the cornerstone of his time at ODA.
“Being mentored by L'Tanya Evans, Joe Runge, Laura Murphy, David Mahler, and countless other individuals...it's about the people, the relationships, and the friendships. My colleagues are not just my co-workers. They're my family.”
In the decade that Mr. Salmon has worked at ODA, he says that the community remains committed to helping others.
“At ODA, our faculty and staff go the extra mile, they go above and beyond in all that they do. This is the heart of our community and what makes this place so special.”
This sentiment pertains to Mr. Salmon’s impact at ODA just as much. He is known as someone who embodies the Out-of-Door spirit; he never hesitates to lend a hand, share an idea, and put in extra effort to ensure the success of others.
“Michael Salmon is an incredible asset to the ODA community,” said Head of School David Mahler. “He lives our mission and core values each and every day.”
As the current Director of Middle and Upper School Admissions, navigating uncharted waters during the COVID-19 pandemic could be daunting to some, but not to Mr. Salmon. His we-can-do-this attitude is infectious and steadying to those who work around him. His ability to find the positive in any situation, no matter how challenging, is inspiring.
“Watching our student-artists, student-athletes, and student-artist-athletes do the impossible...Seeing our community members–faculty, staff, students, and parents–rally behind each other as we navigated (and continue to navigate) the pandemic...Watching applications flood into our office...Meeting every prospective family and watching many turn into new families...Most relevant, perhaps, would be watching how our community came together for the Class of 2020, and having the opportunity to provide our graduates with a re-imagined senior dinner and commencement ceremony. These are moments I will never forget and that I reflect upon often.”
Throughout his time at Out-of-Door, while being an integral part of all of the changes and growth of the school, Mr. Salmon has steadfastly maintained the same goal: “I want to make sure that every member of our community always had the best experience possible.”