Transforming lives and hearts through the Core 4

Gracie Lara lives and breathes the Core 4 culture tenets as a Mental Health Services billing specialist, a mother of two who graduated from Dallas ISD and a cancer survivor. She was inspired to join Dallas ISD as an administrative assistant over 21 years ago after volunteering at district schools.

In her eyes, being fast, focused, flexible and friendly all comes down to being a team player. 

“Having the right team and working with the right people and supporting each other, it makes the job easier for everyone,” Lara said. “We have to help each other by prioritizing effectiveness, working well under pressure and performing well in everything that we do. I don’t think the district would be where it is if we didn’t have help from each other and knowledge from everyone.” 

Lara shows up every day determined to give Mental Health Services 110 percent of her passion and dedication. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015—in the same month that one of her co-workers was diagnosed with brain cancer—her entire perspective changed. 

“You learn to appreciate not just your job, but the people around you, friends, family—literally everything,” she said. “You don’t take anything for granted.” 

Fortunately, after a month of chemotherapy and radiation, she said she “bounced back,” and she has felt “blessed” to continue learning from others and leading by example, whether she is at work or interacting with her two children. 

“The district has an absolute gem of an employee in Gracie Lara,” said Denise McCorkle, an administrative assistant in Mental Health Services. “She goes out of her way to help anyone who needs anything at all. She volunteers her time whenever she can, rushes in to help wherever she is needed, takes up the slack of other staff who are overwhelmed and never complains.”

Lara has benefited greatly from taking advantage of as many professional development opportunities as possible and getting to know more people and departments in the district to gain a better understanding of what services are available to staff and students. 

“I appreciate life. For me, it’s a second chance,” Lara said. “I’m always putting myself in other people’s shoes: ‘What if I was that employee who needs help? What if I was that parent who needs services? What if I’m that stranger who’s new to Dallas?’ I always try to help out, regardless of what gets in the way.” 

You may also like