Now a dean of middle school, she celebrated her 15th year at the school in March and has been instrumental in bringing back people who graduated from Detroit Premier as educators. Former students who are now teachers at the school include Tiffani Wilkins (math), Lakeytra Coleman (early learning), Linton McNeeley (fifth grade), and Danielle Anderson (second grade).
Dean of Middle School LaTronda Ways is in her 15th year at Detroit Premier Academy.
“They’re giving back. Some of them, this is their second career,” Ways said. “They went out into corporate America and based on some of the values they learned being at Detroit Premier Academy, corporate America just wasn’t satisfying to them, so they’ve come back, and now they’re giving back to the very school they graduated from.”
Ways always knew she wanted to work with young people. While in high school she did volunteer work at inner city events and began a career as a social worker for the city of Detroit.
In her time as a social worker, Ways did in-home interventions for families with children at risk. Once she started a family of her own, she wanted a job that was more conducive to raising children. In keeping with her passion for helping kids, she started substitute teaching and loved it. Soon, she went back to school and earned a degree in education.
Ways started out at Detroit Premier as K-8 special teacher under Von Glass (now principal at Warrendale Charter Academy). It didn’t take long for her to feel at home.
“I fell in love with Detroit Premier in April 2008 and have been in love ever since,” she said. “Everything about DPA when I walked in, the energy, the community, that resonated with me and still does. That’s why I’m here and I’ve stayed. The community and the young people we service keeps me coming back. That’s my charge and that’s what I love.”
For two years, Ways focused on reading and hands-on math intervention to help students improve NWEA test scores. She also worked as a specials teacher and middle school math teacher.
She feels having a variety of experiences with different grade levels has helped her growth as an educator. In teaching K-8 students, she had to learn how to adapt her methods for each grade level.
“It’s like not being able to swim and being thrown into the ocean,” she said. “You’re going to sink or swim. I committed to it, and I chose to figure out how to swim.”
Ways is proud of the part she has played in helping students grow at Detroit Premier, which has outperformed the local district for 11 years. What keeps her coming back after 15 years is applying Moral Focus virtues to help students from different backgrounds.
“I definitely want to see them achieve academically but I believe that before we can do that, because we are teaching in an urban school there are some other things we have to address first,” she said. “That’s why those moral virtues are so important to instill some of those values in our students.”
Keep up the excellent work, Ms. Ways!
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Detroit Premier Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Detroit, Michigan, serving students in kindergarten through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit nhaschools.com.
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