Aiding new ages

Co-teacher Jodi Laborett reflects on transition from work across the border


Matt Bolden

Student teacher Jodi Laborett assists sophomore Grant Pursifull with an english assignment. Laborett works with many teachers including Tamara Sakura and Laura Pikl.

Jodi Laborett traded kilometers for miles per hour as a limo driver for a retirement home. Laborett traded her title as the 55 and older art class coordinator for high school English class co-teacher.

“Well, it’s kind of an interesting story, I guess,” Laborett said.

Laborett moved to the United States from a town southwest of Calgary called Turner Valley when she was 21 years old. Laborett began her passion for teaching after working as an activities coordinator at a retirement home.

“I was born and raised in Canada,” Laborett said. “It’s a little town that no one’s heard of. I was a student there at a college no one’s heard of.”

She received a bachelor’s degree of psychology and counseling at University of Lethbridge in Alberta. When she moved to Texas, she attended the University of Central Texas where she received a masters and PhD in grief counseling.

“I was working at a retirement home as an activities coordinator,” Laborett said. “One of the ladies there had been a teacher for thirty-seven years. She was like ‘Oh, you’re such a great teacher’ and she told me to look into teaching.”

Laborett drove limos, and taught art and other activity classes at the retirement home. Eventually, she considered teaching, got certified as a teacher through the region 10 program and found a position in Garland.

“My kids were in school [at Lovejoy],” Laborett said. “I taught in Richardson before, but I came [to Lovejoy] when [my kids] started high school.”

Laborett is a co-teacher at the high school. She is a certified Special Education teacher and often tag teams with ELA instructors. In classes where students might have learning gaps, teachers can divide the class into smaller groups and change instruction to best educate students.

“She has this quiet strength,” English teacher Tamara Sakuda said. “She’s approachable for kids. She’s much calmer than I am and works on that relationship with the kids. She just brings a nice calming presence to our classroom.”

Laborett is in her fifth year of teaching at the district.

“I love teaching for many reasons,” Laborett said. “I like to make connections with them [students] so they feel they have somebody that believes in what they can do. Somebody who supports them and encourages them no matter what.”

Laborett spends the school days switching between classrooms wherever she is needed by teachers.

“She brings a lot of positive energy,” English teacher Amanda Arriaga said. “She brings a lot of content and knowledge for all students as they’re working. She gives them a lot of individual assistance as well.”

Laborett has gone from teaching art classes to senior citizens to one-on-one teaching with high school students. She has seen education from being both a mom and an educator.

“I think Lovejoy is fantastic,” Laborett said. “I think we have fantastic teachers, and that’s from a mom [perspective]. The students are respectful and want to do well. [They] have these huge dreams to do things. Just getting a chance to support them and see that happen makes teaching special.”