Creating a Culture That Changes Lives


What makes a great school culture? As they say, it takes a village – and in the case of Project L.I.F.T., a dynamic principal working with every educator and staff member to build a team like no other.

Mrs. Taylor McGee Conner, a biology teacher at West Charlotte High School, shares her thoughts on her school’s culture of high achievement. This is a continuation of the culture at all 10 L.I.F.T. schools. Scholars arrive at West Charlotte prepared, because they have been guided, challenged and supported by teachers and staff at each step of their academic journey, from PreK to their senior year. We can see the impact of a great school culture in the graduation numbers. Since the establishment of Project L.I.F.T., the graduation rate at West Charlotte has risen from 54% to 86%, and the loving work that goes into achieving this impressive number is reflected in every classroom, every day.

As Mrs. McGee Conner puts it:

At West Charlotte, our faculty and staff believe that every student can succeed. To make this a reality, we prepare scholars for academic excellence, personal responsibility and self-confidence required to be college and/or career ready. Everyone on our team has the scholars’ best interests at heart. Within our professional development and staff meetings, expectations are set to ensure that everyone is on the same page. We build strong relationships among ourselves, and expect our scholars to embody this same behavior. We encourage and build our students as we teach them, and this continues during breakfast, lunch duty, and even as we walk to the bus stop.


As a team, we realize that despite location, socioeconomic status or test scores, students deserve to be given the best education possible. They deserve a supportive team who will challenge them to give their absolute best, regardless of how tough it may be. Each individual in our school, from the principal to the custodial staff, understands the importance of working together, and this positive learning takes place in a positive culture. Displaying such a culture may be challenging at times, but it helps us to become better as a community, family and school.

The entire West Charlotte team understands that above all, we are here to educate and grow the whole child academically, socially and behaviorally – celebrating and recognizing each success, and learning from any obstacle. Because of the shift in mindsets, the culture at West Charlotte has undergone a great deal of positive change over the years. Everyone is held to high standards, and given access to the academic support and services necessary for success. In fact, data has shown that our scholars and educators are not just meeting these standards, but exceeding them! As stated by our principal, Dr. Barnes-Jones, our goal is to change futures and ultimately change lives.

About The Author

Dan Swartz /