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The Oak Cliff Chamber of Commerce recently named Life High School Oak Cliff teacher Dr. Alissa Russell its 2016 High School Educator of the Year during a ceremony at Dallas City Hall on April 14.

“I have had the privilege and pleasure of working alongside Dr. Russell at Oak Cliff Secondary and I can honestly say that I have met few people as uniquely talented in teaching as Dr. Russell,” says Elmer Avellaneda, the school’s principal. “Dr. Russell has been a positive influence to many of our students at our Oak Cliff Secondary campus. In all the time I have known her she has excelled in demonstrating character, creativity, and has communicated effectively as a visionary leader.” 

Dr. Russell, a secondary school teacher at Life School Oak Cliff since 2009, is known for her commitment to her students and the energy and responsibility she brings to her work. In 2015, her students achieved 100% passing rate on the TAKS and STAAR, and she was in turn named Life School District Secondary Teacher of the Year.

“I have seen many students return to the school just to let Mrs. Russell know that her refusing to give up on them has made a big difference in their life and encouraged them to continue their education,” says Avellaneda. “Her doctoral project was to develop a Parental Learning Community (PLC) to increase parent participation in the educational process and has been used by many education experts as a guiding tool for implementation of PLCs.”

Life School opened as a public charter school in 1998 and has campuses in Oak Cliff, Mountain Creek, Cedar Hill, Lancaster, Red Oak and Waxahachie. The Texas Education Agency awarded Life School its highest rating of Superior Achievement. Life School’s mission is to train leaders with life skills for the 21st century by establishing strong academics, character training and a parenting program. To learn more about Life School, visit