Women of Influence: Lauren Lowery

A view from the top…

With a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and Teaching, from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and a masters in Business Administration from Western Governors College, Lauren Lowery has advanced to become the Dollywood Company‘s Operations Manager for Dollywood’s Splash Country. Each day, she applies her passion for teaching and creating smiles to provide safe, memorable fun for her guests.  

Aquatic education continues to prove invaluable for Lowry

Lauren Lowery

PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. — Lauren Lowery entered the attractions industry as a teenager. And it was during that first summer job that she discovered her true passion and calling, eventually turning her part-time role into her full-time career with the Dollywood Company. 

Originally from Mobile Bay in Alabama, Lowery says she has been in the water for her entire life. “I’m a water baby,” she said. “I gravitate toward it. And my job is surrounded by it.” 

When her family moved to Tennessee, she applied for a summer job at Dollywood’s Splash Country to become a lifeguard. She continued to work there through college. 

“I went to Dollywood’s Splash Country because I had heard it would be fun for the summer,” she shared. “During college, it became so much more than a seasonal job. I found my role as a lifeguard, and the incredible people at Splash Country, had become part of my DNA.” 

“My mother is a teacher, and she hoped I would also become one, but I planned to study nursing,” Lowery explained. “However, when I joined Splash Country and became a lifeguard instructor, I found myself realizing, ‘I am meant to be here. I am meant to do this.’”

She also discovered that through the education and instruction she received, and later passed on to others at Splash Country, her true calling emerged. “I found my joy, and discovered I really am a teacher. I’m a teacher through and through.”

Lowery earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and Teaching at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, ready to continue teaching. After two years working as a first grade teacher, she also recognized her gift for teaching was best served outside the traditional classroom. She soon shifted her focus to water safety, lifeguard instruction, and hospitality by becoming a full-time team member at Splash Country. 

“It’s important to understand we need public education teachers and it was hard to shift careers, but I recognized I would continue to do good work and have an impact on people. Seeing lifeguards grow is my passion. Knowing that I have taught them important skills inspires me. 

“It’s so cool to see a 15-year-old come into themselves over a summer,” she continued. “You see them grow and their confidence build. You are teaching skills that will be with them for the rest of their lives.” 

Lowery credits her training from Ellis and Associates, Inc (E&A) for empowering her. Continued training and certification with E&A allowed her to grow as an instructor and help others learn how to save lives.

“When you are teaching CPR, you have so much to consider — the ages and sizes of your guests, the environment you are in, the range of emotions felt during a potential life-saving situation. All of it comes together in a moment. I believe every aspect of the education I received, both as a lifeguard, and as a teacher, go hand in hand with what I am doing today.”

And while she no longer teaches children the “Three R’s,” part-time summer teenagers are not her only students. 

“We just taught CPR Certification to 50 members of the management team at Dollywood,” she shared. “It’s a voluntary company opportunity but one I’m proud our culture supports. CPR can be learned at any time, at any age, and I love to provide that training. Teaching lifesaving skills that can be applied anywhere is a gift. It’s hard to think of it as a job.” 

It is a key part of Lowery’s job, of course, and in addition to the lifeguards at Splash Country, she also oversees the aquatics team at Dollywood’s DreamMore Resort.

“I have grown so much since I began here,” Lowery stated. “Our water park operation is incredible, and I continue to learn every day. I’ve also expanded my experience and am responsible for the aquatics operation at the DreamMore Resort and am preparing for the opening of our second hotel.

“We get paid to make people happy,” she added. “That’s our job, and it’s special to see families of all types disconnect and spend time together. You rarely see phones in a water park, and instead you see families engaging with each other. It may sound cheesy, but it really is the best part of my job.” 

Lowery’s degree in education includes an endorsement in Special Education. She applies those core concepts to better serve her guests by partnering with her colleagues across all areas of the Dollywood operation.  

“I’m on a panel with fellow members of Dollywood management that focuses on making our parks more inclusive and accessible across all areas,” she explained. “We make suggestions and implement operational changes that help bring families closer together — and that means all families. I’m so lucky to be part of such a supportive and forward-focused company that truly embodies its culture and values.

“I love learning as much as I love teaching,” she finished. “I love professional development, taking on new responsibilities, and seeking ways to better myself. You can definitely say my personality fits perfectly with Dollywood’s core value to constantly improve. I’m thankful to the Dollywood Company for their support and for providing opportunities that allow me to learn. I will keep going forward.”

Susan Storey

This article appears in the  MAY 2023 issue of Amusement Today.
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