Today we’d like to introduce you to La’Shondra Johnson.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
EXTRAordinary Youth Inc. started as a dream in college of giving back to the youth who came after me through the arts. A graduate of a performing arts high school, I accredit my vast knowledge of public speaking, confidence, and thinking quickly on my feet to performing in front of my peers throughout high school and college.
It was not until I became a high school English teacher that I became aware of how children in under-developed areas were left struggling, especially in areas of social-emotional skills and their overall confidence. It was because of this that I began to implement various exercises with my students to work with them in those areas, and thus EXTRAordinary Youth, Inc. was born.
After teaching full time for four years, I made the decision to pursue my nonprofit full time for one year to really run a pilot and see what I need to work on with my students (who are normally students kicked out of regular school or in Title I schools). Thus far I have seen a 100% increase in areas of confidence and understanding of public speaking. Next is measuring any growth in academic areas such as reading and writing.
Has it been a smooth road?
The road has been rough and tiresome. I struggled mentally, physically, and emotionally, not to mention my significant financial change. I went from 2,000 every two weeks with benefits to getting a check for $80 that had to last me the month. Taking money out of my savings just to get by. The first few months I could only substitute in hopes to land my a place to run my workshop. A grant I was promised was actually cut in half which increased my financial struggle immensely, and I do the work on my own.
I have volunteers when necessary but the curriculum, the schedule, the financial reports are predominantly up to me since my board meets once every other month. I cried my way through this process. I was depressed, my body struggled as well with various health problems I had to pay out of pocket for. This journey was not easy. I didn’t see any money coming to my business till January which was seven months after I resigned from my job as a full time teacher.
We’d love to hear more about your business.
I specialize in Education and Social-Emotional skills. My bachelor’s degree is in Social Work, and I have certification for ELA 6-12, so I am able to infuse both. But I have also been a performer since I was a kid and went to performing arts schools. I still perform today in film, web series, and plays, so putting what I learned as far as leadership and public speaking in my program are important.
I am most proud of my student’s growth. My students have come back to me telling me how my program helped them give presentations in class or express themselves better. I don’t always see the growth right away or sometimes at all, but I have had older students come back to visit me or write to me on social media expressing gratitude. That’s an amazing feeling.
What sets me apart is the fact that I individualize my program for my student’s needs. I don’t just focus on one aspect, I really do merge the skills needed for tomorrow using tools and games people have yet to think of. And I’m just getting started.
What have been some of the most important lessons you’ve learned over the course of your career?
That’s hard because I have learned so much through my wrong. I guess it would be finishing this MBA first so I could have more time to focus on my business and grow it even more.
My growth has been great in this last year of taking off work, but being in school and having real-life classes and assignments that you’re paying for can make things quite difficult as far as balancing it all. But this process definitely made me realize I’m not superwoman and self-care is important. I needed that lesson.
- Website: Extraordinaryouthinc@gmail.com
- Phone: 9548648463
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: Thelasho_show