Lawrence school employee goes above and beyond to help students graduate

CBS4 This Morning

Alisa Bush at Lawrence Advance Academy

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -  A Lawrence Township school is making sure the district’s high school graduation rate remains high, even with students who might struggle because of personal circumstances.

Many at Lawrence Advance Academy are inspired by one woman.  In fact they reached out to CBS4 because of her work with their students, saying she often sacrifices her own money and time.

Alisa Bush has been with the Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township for 20 years.  When you see her interacting with students in the classroom, she looks like any other teacher, but her role is instructional assistant.  Bush uses her psychology degree to offer guidance and support to the students at Lawrence Advance Academy.

“It’s really across the board, just meeting their needs whether it be educational needs, whether it be social needs, whether it be personal need,” said Bush.  “I am just there.”

As she looks over their work on laptop computers, most of her students don’t even realize she’s legally blind.

“I have an eye disease called Retinitis pigmentosa,” explained Bush.  “I have vision in my right eye and low to no vision in my left, but that doesn’t stop me.”

Her positive attitude and hard work are what inspired the teachers around her to reach out to CBS4.

“Just her personality, her warmness and helping kids to be better and to get what they need,” said Principal Ronald Davie.

Davie helped start Lawrence Advance Academy about three years ago.  The high school seniors here need a little more attention, and that’s why Bush’s work goes a long way.

“The kids are behind in credits and we help them get caught up so that he, she can graduate with their class,” Davie said of his 95 students.  “Secondly kids that have other issues, like they have to support their family, babysitting issues.”

The graduation rate is now up to 92% in the district because of the work done in the small classrooms.  Bush admits she could have used her degree for a more lucrative job, but that’s not important to her.  In fact, her coworkers said she sometimes feeds the students using her own money.

“My mother was a single mother.  So we didn’t always have things,” said Bush.  “I love to see smiles on their face and basically want to see what I can do to make their life easier than what mine was.”

Bush has advice to educators when the job can get tough.

“Let your motto be it’s all for the kids,” said Bush.  “You can’t give up.  You’ve still got to be there.”

Lawrence Advance Academy also has a food pantry on the first floor because some of the high school seniors come from homes that may need food or the students don’t have money to buy lunch.  There is a clothing closet with items donated for students who might need apparel.

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