Dr. Scott Isaacs is a spelling coach living and working in Denver, Colorado. As a fourth grader, his parents discovered a gift for spelling when he enrolled in a bee in a local shopping mall and won with little preparation. Later that year, he won third place at his district bee, and became one of the youngest qualifiers in the Colorado-Wyoming Regional Spelling Bee. In sixth grade, he won both his district bee and the Colorado-Wyoming bee. He went on to compete at the 1987 Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee, earning 41st place. Two years later, on his third attempt, Isaacs won the 1989 Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee.
Since that time, he has worn a number of different hats. After high school, he attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, majoring in Russian language with a concentration in environmental studies. At St. Olaf, nationally known for its music program, he also indulged his love of choral music. To this day, he sings in choirs around the Denver area as a bass-baritone. After college, he then earned two doctorate degrees in health care, including a degree in naturopathic medicine from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine (now the National University of Natural Medicine) in Portland, Oregon; and a degree in chiropractic from the National University of Health Sciences in Lombard, Illinois. He maintained a private practice in the Denver area from 2006 through 2014.
After returning to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 2011 to visit, Dr. Isaacs began his coaching career that fall. Since that time, he has worked with nearly 50 students across the nation. Roughly half of his students qualified for the Scripps National Spelling Bee. With his help, four of his students – Frank Cahill (pictured), Sylvie Lamontagne, Tejas Muthusamy, and Vanya Shivashankar – became finalists and competed on the ESPN prime time broadcast. Shivashankar became a Scripps champion in 2015. In addition, with his help, Siyona Mishra, another top speller at Scripps, won the 2016 South Asian Spelling Bee.
In addition to his coaching duties, Dr. Isaacs became the academic director for Spelling Bee of China (SPBCN) in 2015, helping to oversee the publication of study materials for students across China. He also was the pronouncer for the national competition (the Super Spelling Bee of China) from 2016 through 2019. Dr. Isaacs also helped promote and conduct local spelling bees multiple times a year throughout China. In addition, he was pronouncer and word list manager for the North America Spelling Champion Challenge from 2015 to 2019. This program, an international bee, takes place each summer, with many top spellers from the United States, Canada, and China.
The field of spelling coaching is currently dominated by enthusiastic immediate past spellers. Dr. Isaacs understands that bees are intense, dramatic, and often emotional events often prone to mistakes. As such, he has begun to turn his interests to the administrative side of local and regional spelling bees, and is hoping to use his skills to improve bee organization and procedures.