How MSAS Music Teacher Larry Lawson Brings the Magic Every Day

Sarah McCliment

“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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