Liz Etter, Source of Strength for Her Community

Liz Etter, Source of Strength for Her Community

By Barbra Buoy

Lizz Etter hates to relax. Just two months after having her second child, Wyatt, she was back in her local Gold’s Gym working out at least six days a week. “Kickboxing is my favorite! Slowing down is just not my forte. My BODYFLOW® class ends with 10 minutes of relaxation and I always leave before that part,” says Lizz.

Born and raised in East Cobb, Lizz has brought this same energy and enthusiasm to her U.S. history classrooms for 14 years. Her duties expanded two years ago when she began serving as co-sponsor of the Sources of Strength (SOS) program (alongside guidance counselor Misty Hawk) at Lassiter High School, her alma mater. SOS aims to prevent suicide, violence, bullying, and substance abuse by training adults and peer leaders to create a network of support for students in distress. Lassiter implemented the program after two brothers were killed in a car crash. “We wanted to be as proactive as possible,” Lizz says. This year, SOS-trained staff were able to intervene when students reported troubling social media posts about their peers.

The program routinely brings in guest speakers to educate the Lassiter community on warning signs and they also host fun activities like handing out candy or wristbands that have ‘LHS: Stronger Together’ written on them. “But we know that we have to do more than hand out a lollipop,” Lizz says. “We’ve got to give the kids resources and remind them that they’re not alone. We’ve had students become peer leaders because they themselves were struggling.”

Lassiter’s SOS peer leaders inspire Lizz daily. “You’re able to see another side of the students,” Lizz says. “When I see them commit themselves and know that what they’re doing is really making a difference, it just fills my teacher tank.” When she’s not in the classroom, Lizz enjoys spending time with her husband, Sean, whom she met at Lassiter, 3-year-old daughter, Willow, and Wyatt, savoring the cuisine of Marietta. Reveille Coffeehouse Café is a family favorite. “Their smoked gouda grits are just amazing. You’ll be ‘smoked gouda’ happy by the time you leave.”

Details: sourcesofs

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