Theater Director Provides Refuge for Students


Courtesy of Elowyn

Jessica Winingham lives by the motto, “Nothing can threaten our peace.” She continually uses her program to provide her students with a sense of empowerment to find their own inner peace.

“Nothing can threaten our peace.” This is the motto that Mrs. Jessica Winingham lives by. The theatre program director encourages students to find their own peace by offering them a healthy home life. She wants to show students how to maintain a healthy core through her motto.

“There’s a lot of different principles that guide what I do, but my therapist helped me find a really great one. ‘Nothing can threaten our peace.’ Which is all about the world being chaotic, and awful, and things are so out of control. But your inner peace, nothing can get in that bubble.” said Winingham. 

Over the past years, Winingham opened her home and her heart to students needing a space to grow in order to maintain their inner peace. Eli Shelby, an LHS alumni, became a son-like figure to Winingham and her spouse after graduating. He was previously a thespian in the theatre program and had a very close relationship with Winingham. 

“We were really close and he graduated. He was going to be homeless and my spouse and I said no, you will live with us. And so, he moved in with us for a year from when he was eighteen to nineteen. We went through all sorts of things together, all sorts of really intense life things,” said Winingham. 

She acknowledges that some students need someone who will provide a healthy environment for personal growth. 

“We’ll always throughout time have students who graduate and need us,” said Winingham. “And it depends on what levels they need us, and we’ll be there.” 

Another LHS alumni, Hadassah, went through a similar experience with Winingham. They didn’t need to live with her, but they needed an adult figure to guide and support them even after high school. When Hadassah went off college in Chicago, Wingingham was there to provide their necessities. 

“We went up there and bought them groceries, and made sure they were safe and had things they needed,” said Winingham.

Winingham said she is happy to lend a helping hand to any student in need and has made it clear that this won’t be her last time extending her empathy to a student. 

“It’ll happen over and over again and I’m happy to do it. I feel like if the opportunity arises, it’s an honor for me to be chosen to help somebody,” said Winingham. “I don’t look forward to anyone experiencing trauma or pain, obviously, but if they are and I’m in a position to help, I’m always happy to do it.”

By modeling these behaviors, she hopes to provide her students with an established sense of their own inner peace. 

“I have to take care of myself, so I try to make sure they do the same,” says Winingham.