Using Play-Doh, students at Hardin Middle School (HMS) navigate their way through the writing process, learning how to shape their creations one step at a time. Seventh grade English language arts (ELA) teacher Leah Lawrence uses this unit as a tangible way to show young writers how to welcome constructive criticism, provide feedback for others’ work and think critically about how to improve their next “draft.” Lawrence incorporates a number of instructional techniques in her classroom, using student assessment data to drive interventions and lesson differentiation while finding innovative ways to challenge every level of learner. She guides students through setting their own ELA goals and provides them with opportunities to track their progress and advocate for individual growth. Lawrence ignites healthy competition among students through engaging classroom games; one of which encourages them to race to the front of the classroom, using fly swatters to “SWAT” away errors in sentences written on the whiteboard.
Serving as a mentor to new teachers, Lawrence ensures that everyone, including herself, continuously strives for excellence. In her role as HMS’ ELA department chair, she helps lead team meetings and works with the seventh grade professional learning community team to curate effective curriculum, lessons and assessments for students. Lawrence has presented on a wide range of instructional topics, including at the district’s orientation for new teachers, the Missouri Association of Secondary School Principals, and at Lindenwood University. Additionally, Lawrence is an active member of HMS’ climate committee, the district professional development committee, and has participated in countless other initiatives in her years at HMS.
Lawrence is praised for the strong relationships she has built with students, families and community members. She is an approachable resource for parents, maintaining an open and frequent line of communication with them throughout the school year. Students enjoy her presence at HMS sports games, events, and a back-to-school bootcamp which she designed and launched. Lawrence even takes the time to write each student an encouraging letter ahead of state testing.
Lawrence is a three-time Lindenwood University graduate, earning a Bachelor of Arts in English education in 2007, a Master of Arts in education in 2012, and an education specialist degree in school administration in 2016.
Lindenwood University | Dec 20, 2023 | Saint Charles, MO
Missouri National Education Association | Nov 17, 2023 | Jefferson City, MO
Patch.com St. Charles | Nov 17, 2023 | St. Charles, MO
Spectrum News St. Louis | Nov 17, 2023 | St. Louis, MO