David Lawrence Named 2019-20 District Teacher of the Year
David Lawrence, a teacher at Jenks Freshman Academy, is the 2019-20 Jenks Public Schools District Teacher of the Year. An instructor of STEM, biology, music, and special education, Lawrence was selected from a group of ten JPS Site Teachers of the Year by a committee of JPS administrators, school board members, and Jenks teachers who previously qualified as finalists for Oklahoma State Teacher of the Year.
“I am overwhelmed and humbled to receive this honor of being named the District Teacher of the Year,” Lawrence remarked. “I know how many outstanding teachers there are here at JPS, and I sincerely hope I can be a great representative for them and for this District. It is a place that has given so much to me, and I welcome the opportunity to give back in this capacity.”
This year at the Freshman Academy, Lawrence teaches two sections of music appreciation, a special education biology class, and Intro to STEM. In his music classes, Lawrence challenges students to connect songs to the time and place they were created while also allowing students to create and perform their own music compositions. As a biology teacher, Lawrence works to differentiate material to meet student needs as he assists with essential practices such as note taking and how to ask the right questions. In the STEM course, students in Lawrence’s class are introduced to a variety of topics and disciplines including robotics, design, mechanics, structures, programming, and sustainable energy.
“Education has been an extremely important part of my life,” said Lawrence. “Right now, the profession is changing, and this is an exciting time to be a teacher. With all the technology available to our students, there are so many options and techniques and tools out there for teachers to really reach every single student and to open so many doors by creating the right kind of experiences for them inside of our classrooms.”
Lawrence, a native of Grand Prairie, Texas, has been a Jenks teacher for 11 years. After graduating from Southern Methodist University, Lawrence was a member of the Peace Corps in Cameroon. He returned to school when his time serving in Africa was completed and earned a medical degree from the University of Texas-San Antonio. Lawrence used his medical training in Togo where he went to work on an AIDS project with Crisis Corps – an offshoot of the Peace Corps. Upon his return to the United States, Lawrence worked in a hospital emergency room in Michigan and moved to Tulsa seeking a new career in education. He spent time at Jenks as a substitute teacher and a paraprofessional before earning his teacher certification.
“I have been given so many extraordinary opportunities that I never would have enjoyed if it weren’t for my education,” Lawrence stated. “I know the value of education, and I am humbled to be in a position to gift that love of learning to a new generation. There are few professions where you can so dramatically alter someone’s life for the better.”
Over the next few months, Lawrence will complete the application process to be considered for the Oklahoma Teacher of the Year. Finalists for the state award will be announced in July and the winner will be named at a ceremony in Oklahoma City in September. Lawrence is attempting to become the seventh consecutive Jenks teacher to be named a finalist for the state’s highest honor.