Inspired Life School parent joined Life School as educator to inspire others

Submitted by Chelsea Groomer

Life School parent Johnnie Ware of Life Middle School Waxahachie (LMSW) brings a unique perspective to what it means to be a part of the Life School family. Her journey began when her children, Denys and Dennis, were accepted to Life School Red Oak (LSRO) when the campus first opened in 2003.

“My experience with Life School is that they were able to welcome my kids in. [...] If my kids were falling behind, they [teachers] would stay on them and teach them character along with helping them out.” Ware recalled.

Life School parent Johnnie Ware is now a paraprofessional at Life Middle School Waxahachie campus

Ware’s children later continued into Life Middle School Waxahachie (LMSW) and Life High School Waxahachie (LHSW) where they graduated.

“We were excited they did it, that they were able to stay at one school for that long and graduate from there,” Ware shared. “I was glad we didn’t have to change them around because we were very happy with the teachers, the Superintendent, and it’s a nice school.”

Graduating in the Class of 2020, Ware’s son is beginning his first semester at Tyler Junior College, while her daughter completes her senior year at Texas State University, majoring in Health Care Administration.

SENIOR LIFE PROJECT

Crediting her children’s success to Life School’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) program, Ware tells how it further shaped her daughter’s career goals.

“One thing I like about Life School is when they do the Senior Projects. They [teachers] really worked with my daughter in the Health program every step of the way. And now my daughter is studying Health Care Administration,” Ware noted.

The “Senior Life Project” (SLP) is a year-long, academic exploration that pairs a high school senior’s interests with real-world application. The SLP is a chance for students to choose what their focus of learning will be as they prepare for life beyond high school. During their senior year, they choose a topic they are interested in, work with a mentor, propose a plan, develop a finished product, and present their discoveries to a panel of judges from the community.

“We hope that their chosen area of study leads to self-discovery, growth, and stretches them to see things in a new light,” expressed Brandee Morris, Life School’s ELA Curriculum Coordinator.

Many students choose to explore careers that prepare them for college or the military.

“Over and over we have heard how this project helped students understand what they do, or don’t want to do after high school. Students have been grateful for this discovery which allowed them to save money on courses focused in the ‘wrong’ major,” Morris added.

Ware agreed with Morris, noting how her daughter’s SLP project influenced a switch with her college major.

“My daughter was going to be a pharmacy technician and did her project on that,” Ware said. “It was really nice but at the end, she said, ‘I love it, but this is not what I want to do.’ So doing the Senior Projects helped her realize what she really wanted to do, which is to be in Health Care Administration. It was a big help to her.”

JOINING THE TEAM

Impressed by her childrens’ experiences at Life School, Ware’s passion for education grew deeper. She joined the LSRO team in 2013, later transferring to LMSW where she has been a paraprofessional ever since.

“Working at Life School is really great. I’m with SPED (Special Education), so I like to be there for them [students], encourage them, let them know they can do it. If they can’t do it, then I’m here to help them,” Ware acknowledged.

Also known as a teacher’s assistant, paraprofessionals are school employees who work under the supervision of teachers or other licensed, certified professionals. From identifying learner needs to developing and implementing programs, Paraprofessionals champion learner performance and assist delivery of instructional services.

“When you think of a Paraprofessional, think about someone who helps keep students on the ‘right path,’ inspires, and models the kind of person we want our students to grow up to be,” said Kay LeBlanc-Kobs, Life School’s Special Education Manager.

Ware also mentioned that building trust is key to her students’ academic success.

“I don’t just focus on my kids, I focus on all the kids. All the kids know who Mrs. Ware is,” she chuckled. “The students are always like, ‘Hey, Mrs. Ware, I need your help! Hey, can you help me with this?’ They trust me enough to come and talk to me, and ask for help. And I try to help them the best I can because we care about your kids, we care about them being great.”

Ware encourages prospective families to give Life School a chance for an exceptional experience. “Life School cares about your kids. Believe in the teachers and they will believe in your child,” Ware affirmed. “The teachers really do care about the students’ well-being, education, and future.”

Life School opened as an open-enrollment public charter school in 1998 and has schools in Carrollton, Dallas, Cedar Hill, Lancaster, Oak Cliff, Red Oak, and Waxahachie. The mission of Life School is to develop leaders with life skills through strong academics, character training, and partnerships with parents and the community.