John Lawrence is Principal at Shelterwood Academy. In everything he does at Shelterwood, he looks forward to the restoration of families. Get to know Mr. Lawrence.
What Mr. Lawrence loves most about Shelterwood: The community. “We’ve built a family around here. It’s not just staff, but students also. Our goal is to help every child, and we do so as a team.”
When he was a teen: “I spent a lot of time involved with my youth group as a kid and that was something that really defined me and allowed me to be where I am today,” Mr. Lawrence says. “I had a tough time as a kid, faced some of the same stressors kids do today. But I realized there are people who love me and a God who loves me. I learned to run to God and to have him guide me.”
Before Shelterwood: Mr. Lawrence earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Administration from California State University – San Bernardino, and his MS in Education from Walden University. He and his family are from Southern California, where he was a public school teacher. “I was teaching computers to 1,000 elementary school kids a week, and the impact I had on each kid was minimal,” Mr. Lawrence said. He asked the men in his Bible study to start praying for him. “I wanted to find something where I could use my skills to really impact people’s lives.”
What brought Mr. Lawrence to Shelterwood: When his father announced a move to Colorado, Mr. Lawrence started searching for job opportunities and found Shelterwood (which was located in Denver at the time). “God showed me that this is what He called me to do.” Mr. Lawrence took the Principal role and, three years later, moved to Missouri when Shelterwood relocated. He’s been with Shelterwood now for nearly 11 years.
What sets Shelterwood apart: “At Shelterwood, we have special needs kids, gifted kids . . . they run the gamut. The students at Shelterwood are just the same as the students I’ve always taught, and it’s the traditional classroom, but the real difference is they’re getting the help they need.
His favorite part about being Principal: “I’m part of a ministry here,” Mr. Lawrence says. “My job is about so much more than being a principal. I’m helping make an impact, and it’s been neat to help build a team of people who want to help kids not only in their education, but in their lives too.”
A parent of teens: His children were young when Mr. Lawrence began at Shelterwood, but they’re teenagers now, which gives him a unique understanding. “I know how parents are feeling and where they’re at — I’ve felt it too. I’ve seen the pain and hurt that teens can go through.”
The most unique thing happening in Shelterwood classrooms right now: “Most recently, we’ve been focusing on brain-based learning. We’re helping students learn how their brains actually function so they can best retain information, be engaged and understand concepts and key ideas.” Brain Based learning helps teachers interact strategically with students, from knowing how to get students up and moving around to direct interactions. “The little things can really help get them focused and complete their work. Using brain-based learning in the classroom helps students remember things longer, feel more successful, be more intrinsically motivated and have greater self esteem.”
New specialist: Students come to Shelterwood Academy from remedial and advanced levels, and all find academic success. The Academy serves gifted and advanced students, as well as those with special educational needs. Shelterwood recently added a special education teacher to its faculty, which also has Mr. Lawrence excited. “This teacher not only helps the students, but provides information to other teachers as well. We’ve grown by leaps and bounds and we’re serving our Special Ed kids better than ever.”
Family: Mr. Lawrence is married to Jane, who works in the school office as School Registrar and also Executive Assistant to the President. They have two daughters, about to turn 14 and 16. Both are actively involved in their school marching bands, and they especially enjoy traveling to national competitions.
Outside work: “My life outside Shelterwood revolves around my kids,” Mr. Lawrence says. “Right now, my hobbies are participating with my kids, because I only get one chance at this. It’s all about having fun.” He enjoys working concessions at Chiefs, Royals and Sporting KC games to raise money for his daughters’ school bands. He and his wife are also involved as leaders in their church, Heartland Church in Blue Springs, MO.
Best part of his job at Shelterwood: For Mr. Lawrence, it’s all about restoration. “When a family comes into my office on intake day, I see how hurt they are. Being part of the change we can help with is exciting to me. And to see them fully restored is most exciting to me. It’s a result of our teamwork, and that’s what I love about this.”