Denise Wammack was raised by her mom to work hard; to be on time; and if you’re absent or late, to never make excuses. As an L.A. Unified employee for the past 35 years, she never slacked off when it came to her job. The only time she took off work was when her children were born, giving her a near-perfect attendance record.
She has accomplished this feat, despite being diagnosed in 1983 with multiple sclerosis. Still, she pushes herself hard. Twice a week, she endures intense, physical therapy.
Denise is a middle school teacher for City of Angels at the Irving Middle School site in Los Angeles. She works one-on-one with her students, ensuring they finish all 30 hours of homework a week so they complete their courses.
The students and faculty hold tremendous respect for her dedication and hard work. Many former students seek out her guidance. Although she has a strong work ethic, she reminds students to take care of themselves, being careful not to push too hard.
Despite her medical diagnosis, she proudly comes to work, ready to teach. She recently shared with Vince Carbino, the school’s principal, that her right leg gave out as she drove home from work recently from fatigue. She pulled off the freeway and rested before starting again about an hour later. She was afraid that, without seeking temporary relief from driving, she would become accident-prone.
“That is typical Denise, thinking of others before herself,” said Carbino.
She comes to work with a smile on her face and with the heart of a warrior. She, too, needs “weapons” to do her job. She uses a walker on her “good” days, and a wheelchair on “bad” days.
“Hard work and dedication are admirable traits for success, but I also tell my students, to take care of you and don’t overdo it,” Wammack said.