How MSAS Music Teacher Larry Lawson Brings the Magic Every Day

Story by cnmAdmin2030 / December 12, 2019

“We have one time to reach these children and we have to take advantage of that moment.”

Music Teacher, Director of Synergy, always one to go above and beyond Larry Lawson takes advantage of that moment. Originally from Cowpens, SC, Larry grew up in a hometown culture where neighbors are not just the people who live next door, but family. So when he joined the MSAS team five years ago, it was like being at home again. “Meeting Street Schools is special because of that family aspect and close knit culture,” he shared.

Since joining, Larry has worked hard to not only make a strong impact on his students, but his colleagues and community as a whole. From planning the annual spring and fall festivals to directing student productions throughout the year to attending neighborhood meetings in the Spartanburg community, he does it all. But Larry attributes that work ethic to his mom, “She instilled in me that if you’re going to do something, you always give 100%. There’s no point in doing something unless you give it your all.” And if you have ever seen him in action, you know he has made his mom proud.

We are grateful to have Larry apart of our organization. To learn more about him and the magic he brings on a daily basis, check out the interview below!

How did you first hear about Meeting Street Academy-Spartanburg?

I first heard about MSA from Mary Goodenough, one of our preschool teachers. She was in my choir at church and mentioned they were looking for a music teacher. I applied and I still remember walking into what we call the data dorm and meeting Raine (Principal of Meeting Street Academy-Spartanburg) for the first time. It was his second day on the job and being able to hear the vision and message of Meeting Street Schools resonated with me and really struck a chord, no pun intended. It matched my values and aligned well with my passion for ministering and serving others. I knew it was a fit and a day later, I received a job offer. It was a great opportunity, but also a difficult time to come in because the previous music teacher had recently passed away. I was able to use my experience from the church world and comfort those who were grieving. I knew it was not my job to fill her shoes, but carry on her legacy.

You did not start your career in education. What ultimately made you decide to switch careers and pursue one as an educator?

I previously worked in the church for 30 years, so joining Meeting Street Schools was a new adventure for me. I really wanted to do more for people and serve in a different role where I would be able to help families and students be the best they can be. It’s amazing to be able to do that through music and see how it brings people together. I love seeing the students soar in the arts as well as academics. The arts are just as important for developing children.

You wear many hats at Meeting Street Academy-Spartanburg. Can you talk about these roles a little more?

I’m also the Director of Synergy, which includes special event planning and seeing through school events from start to finish. I also do outreach in the communities where our students are zoned by attending neighborhood meetings. I think it’s important to show the community that we are their neighborhood school and to support them as needed.

As the music teacher for MSAS, can you share where your love of music comes from?

Growing up and having the passion to play the piano and sing was fostered by a wonderful middle school teacher I had. She taught me to love music, be who I was and express myself through music. The impact she had on my life made me want to be like her. I still strive to be like her in the classroom.

How do you “bring the magic” to work and why do you think it’s important to do so?

When you’re passionate about something and the people you’re doing it for, you can’t help but bring the magic. It has to be from the heart. If you look at it as a privilege and not just a job, it changes everything. You look beyond the end result and as long as you stay passionate and understand the reason, you can’t help but bring the best everytime. Our students deserve it. We have one time to reach these children and we have to take advantage of that moment.

What inspires you to be the best version of yourself everyday for not only your students, but your colleagues?

I go back to my mom and how she instilled in me that if you’re going to do something, you always give 100%. There’s no point in doing something unless you give it your all. I try to remember that when I’m feeling tired and when I do that, I feel like I’m awarded a lot more of what I’m giving.

What is something you hope to teach each and every student that walks into your classroom?

That they can succeed regardless of the situations life has dealt them. Their choices and ambition will allow them to succeed in all ways–socially, emotionally, and academically.

You recently directed the Dickens of a Christmas production. What did you find most rewarding about the experience?

It’s amazing to see the students have ownership in the production. I like watching them grow as individuals and see their work ethics develop. Seeing their faces and hearing them be proud of what they’ve done is where I find the most gratification. It’s amazing seeing the confidence they gain through the productions.

What are you most looking forward to in the New Year? What’s your resolution?

My personal goal is to connect with old friends. Time and space have disconnected us and I want to foster those old relationships. Professionally, I want to produce more leaders in our older students by giving them more responsibilities and ownership of the things that we do.

 

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About Meeting Street Schools

Meeting Street Schools (MSS) is an innovative non-profit where schools, families, and the community collaborate to create environments where all children can achieve their full potential. With a network of schools across South Carolina, including MSA-Charleston (Charleston, SC), MSA-Spartanburg (Spartanburg, SC), MS-Brentwood (North Charleston, SC), MS-Burns (North Charleston, SC), and MS-Jasper & Beaufort (Jasper, SC), we are committed to providing students with the rigorous education they deserve.

Founded on the principle that every child deserves an excellent education regardless of their socio-economic background, Meeting Street Schools has been a beacon of hope and a testament to what's possible in education. Our schools are driven by a strong focus on student achievement, evidence-based instruction, and relentless support of our students and their families.

While united by our shared mission, each MSS campus, is unique in its character, tapping into the local spirit of the communities they serve. Explore each of our schools and discover how they're creating a brighter future for students in South Carolina.

News & NotesFrom Clemson University to Master Teacher and Player Coach: Emily Godwin

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Our Schools

MSA – CharlestonDowntown Charleston, SC - Independent School - Since 2008 - 364 Students

Nestled in the heart of Charleston, South Carolina, MSA Charleston is more than just a school—it’s a hub for innovative learning and community engagement. As part of the Meeting Street Schools network, MSA Charleston embodies a commitment to excellence through its rigorous academic programs, inclusive culture, and focus on developing the whole child. With a curriculum that emphasizes both academic and personal growth, MSA Charleston prepares students to be curious learners and active citizens of their community.

MSA – SpartanburgDowntown Spartanburg, SC - Public School - Since 2012 - 323 Students

MSA Spartanburg stands as a pillar of educational innovation in the Spartanburg community. The school’s dedicated educators and supportive learning environment ensure that each child receives a high-quality, personalized education with exceptional faculty and teachers. MSA Spartanburg is distinguished by its emphasis on community partnership, fostering relationships that extend beyond the classroom to build a strong foundation for lifelong learning and success.

MS – BrentwoodNorth Charleston, SC - Public School - Since 2014 - 694 Students

MS Brentwood is a place where education meets opportunity. Serving the Brentwood area, this school is a testament to the transformative power of education. With a student-centered approach that celebrates diversity and encourages excellence, MS Brentwood is dedicated to equipping students with the skills they need to thrive in the 21st century. MS Brentwood also serves as a hub for the Brentwood community to access educational and wellness services. The school’s commitment to innovation, coupled with a warm, welcoming environment, makes it a standout in the MSS network.

MS – BurnsNorth Charleston, SC - Public School - Since 2018 - 478 Students

Located in a community rich with history and culture, MS Burns is renowned for its dynamic educational approach that intertwines traditional learning with modern teaching techniques. The school’s focus on experiential learning ensures that students at MS Burns are not only recipients of knowledge but also active participants in their educational journey. MS Burns exists to spark an educational revolution for the students and families in the Dorchester-Waylyn Neighborhood in North Charleston. With a commitment to creating a supportive and challenging academic environment, MS Burns is forging a new path in public education.

MS – Jasper & BeaufortJasper County, SC - Public Charter School - Fall 2023 -

MS Jasper represents the Meeting Street Schools’ dedication to community-based education with a global perspective. The school provides a nurturing environment where students are encouraged to explore their potential and cultivate a love for learning. With its diverse programs such as Eureka Math, and Wit and Wisdom, MS Jasper puts a major emphasis on character development, specialized learning and equips students to become thoughtful, engaged members of society, reflecting the MSS ethos of empowerment through education.

CommunityVoices

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“We come into work everyday truly believing that our students are capable of achieving anything that is put in front of them. Here at MSS, students are provided the opportunity to achieve success through the facilitation of well-educated teachers, resources, and a responsive classroom school environment.”

— NikToshia GilesTeacher

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“Meeting Street Academy is my family. They taught me that I am valuable. I am an asset to the world…They asked me, ‘What is your dream?’ I had never been asked that before. The MSS community gives me the strength to pursue my dreams.”

— Kadelyn SteedStudent

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“MSA is a family. Once you’re in, you’re in. They said they would follow our kids from K-3 to college and they actually lived up to what they said they would do. Not only did MSA challenge my daughter academically but it also exposed her to new things that she probably wouldn’t have been exposed to at our previous neighborhood school. Our journey at MSA was exciting and rewarding. They actually walk the walk.”

— Tyeka GrantParent