California North Odyssey of the Mind created  the Janis Dewar Distinguished Service Award to recognize adult volunteers who have demonstrated exemplary levels of selfless dedication to the program as well as creative problem-solving skills, outside the box thinking, and a desire to share their experiences with others. California North Odyssey of the Mind is the non-profit organization that administers the competitions and Odyssey of the Mind program in Northern California.  We operate under the non-profit status of Creative Opportunities Unlimited (COU).

We believe that by showing appreciation for Odyssey volunteers in our program, we will continue the legacy of the individuals and the program.  We invite any Odyssey participants to nominate a worthy recipient for this recognition.  The volunteer must have been active in Odyssey of the Mind for at least four years.

The award is funded by the Janis Dewar Distinguished Service Award fund created in recognition of her selfless volunteerism to Odyssey throughout her more than 20-year tenure as Coach, Board Member and Regional Director.  Those of us who interacted with Janis Dewar throughout the years, knew her to be selfless, gracious, kind and the epitome of grace under pressure.  Her efforts for students was to aid in learning and growth and for adults to make each person feel special and heard.

As one parent stated:

“… I have seen my son grow in confidence, revel in success, and struggle with disappointment and defeat all through Janis’ inspiration. Odyssey of the Mind has single handedly been the biggest external influence on his development during these critical years. The program bridges the gap between team sports and classroom academics. I am so thankful that he has had these experiences and I whole heartedly credit Janis’ commitment to the program and personal character for this. I am forever indebted to her. Her consistent presence over the past 6 years has been a constant reminder of her passion for the program and for the kids.  A simple gesture of volunteering her time (and patience) set off a chain reaction that has brought so much joy and pride to my two boys. … she made one heck of a positive difference in our life.  My boys have expressed an interest in volunteering to coach a 2nd grade team as a way to “pay it forward” and honor the gesture Janis made years ago that sparked our family’s love for the program.”

We aim to award this honor to someone who has had significant impact on the Odyssey program.  We are looking for someone who may not have an official role, yet is always there helping to make the program work. This award will not be given every year but bestowed when a nominee has demonstrated a “Ranatra-Fusca level” of volunteerism or service.

The honoree will receive a plaque recognizing their volunteerism, a write-up on the NorCal website outlining their contribution to Odyssey throughout the years, and a $200 award.

To nominate:  Follow the instructions below.  Nominating online allows all parts to be submitted electronically and tracked.  All parts of the nomination and letter of commendation, must be received by March 1, 2020 to be considered.

How to nominate online:

A. Nomination. Completed online nomination, including letter of commendation from another Association Board Member, Regional Director/PC or Coach must be received on or before March 1, 2020  to be considered.

B. Nominator Essay. The nominator shall write an essay and respond to the following questions outlining the contribution and attributes of the nominee.

The essay should be no more than 500 words.

1) How has this nominee enhanced the Odyssey of the Mind program?

2) What attitudes or behaviors set this nominee apart from others who do the same activities?

3) Describe a specific situation where this nominee exemplified the behaviors of selflessness, grace under pressure, kindness or giving.

4) What else would you like the review committee to know about the nominee?

C. Commendation email address (Assoc. Board Member, Regional Director, or Coach). An email with a link will be sent to their address in order for them to submit a commendation letter. This letter is in addition to the nomination essay and must be from another Odyssey of the Mind Assoc. Board Member, Regional Director, or Coach explaining why they feel that this exemplary volunteer demonstrates selfless giving of one’s self and time for the program. Limit one page.

The award may be used at the choice of the recipient. Only nominations received on/before March 1, 2020 will be considered. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Apply online