CPSB joined by SOWELA and McNeese in launch of LIFE Academy

October 14, 2022

The Calcasieu Parish School board is excited to announce the launch of LIFE Academy alongside McNeese State University and SOWELA Technical Community College. This partnership provides access to pre-employment transition services to students with significant developmental and intellectual disabilities.


“The LIFE acronym says it all – Learning Is For Everyone,” said CPSB Superintendent Dr. Shannon LaFargue. “This program is another example of Southwest Louisiana’s educational institutions working together to provide continued educational opportunities and life skills for ALL learners. We look forward to growing the LIFE Academy to serve more of these incredible students.”


The LIFE Academy outlines specific goals for these students as they prepare for their next of life:

  • Career education and development: career education, on-the-job training, possible internships
  • Academic instruction: observe and learn under college professors along with CPSB teachers
  • Personal development: coaching and modeling social skills, financial instruction
  • Social and community engagement: age-appropriate social activities, introduce them to college activities
  • Independent living: life skills instructions including laundry, vacuuming, washing dishes, personal hygiene, etc.

Students are selected based on set criteria and an application process. Ten students are currently enrolled at McNeese and ten are enrolled at SOWELA. CPSB provides transportation for these students to and from their educational sites and job sites. Students receive authentic college IDs and can participate in extracurricular functions. Basic materials are provided for students as well as lunch.


"SOWELA is pleased to be able to partner with the Calcasieu Parish School Board to help provide opportunities for these students as they prepare for job opportunities that exist throughout the area," said SOWELA Chancellor Dr. Neil Aspinwall. "The experiences and training they receive while at SOWELA should better prepare them with the skills and knowledge they need to become successful and productive employees."


"The McNeese campus has fully embraced our LIFE Academy students,” said Dr. Daryl Burckel, McNeese president. “We have faculty in select academic programs such as dietetics, special education, psychology, and health and human performance collaborating to give our McNeese students hands-on learning experiences that also benefit our LIFE Academy students. You can see the joy and excitement on the faces of our LIFE Academy students as they interact with faculty and students and participate in campus life activities. We are committed to extending educational opportunities to the LIFE Academy students following the CPSB program.”


The future plan is to grow LIFE Academy, expanding capacity and opening it up to even more eligible students. The target focus for students currently enrolled is for them to obtain a job in their credentialed area before turning 22 so program staff can help them transition into a new season life.