Purefoy Elementary School Counselor Tiffany Ragland has spent the last few years using the Character Lab education program to teach strong character traits to students such as gratitude, optimism, grit and zest for life. She recently found a person close to home to help demonstrate these traits to students.
Jimmy Lee Johnson of Little Elm is often seen jogging along Eldorado Parkway holding up signs with inspirational messages hand lettered on poster board. Ragland asked him to visit the school to speak to Purefoy students.
The young man, who describes himself as a motivational runner and a substitute teacher, has taken what was a rough start to life and chosen to inspire others every day with his signs and words of encouragement.
Johnson has been honored by the City of Little Elm and featured by various media outlets. He tells anyone who wants to know about his story, noting that nothing – not even sleeping on a couch in his brother's garage with the hot water heater as a roommate – will keep him down. He urges others to stay positive.
FISD Counseling Services Coordinator Angie Williams observed Johnson's talk to Purefoy students and said the students loved meeting him. It helped satisfy their curiosity about the man they often see on the street not far from their homes.
"Jimmy exemplifies what the school has been teaching the kids for the last three years: zest, optimism, gratitude, grit, self-control, growth mindset, curiosity and social/emotional IQ," Williams said. "I left feeling very motivated!"
Ragland attended a summit at the University of Pennsylvania this summer with university researcher Angela Duckworth, who developed the Grit Scale for students. This opportunity has allowed Ragland to continue to grow her campus character development and social/emotional program.