St. Louis American: Tell us about your current position in education, its responsibilities and challenges and how you are able to make a difference.
Lawerence Shields: I am the Webster Academy coordinator (coordinator of Alternative Education). This is a new position. I am over six programs; three of them are new. My challenge is starting something new at the school.
St. Louis American: Although educators often work alone, education is a team sport. Tell us about your current team, how you fit into it, and who helps to support your work.
Lawerence Shields: My current team is awesome. I have an instructional aide who helps the students with their online classes. I have an in-school suspension facilitator who works with students to make better decisions, I have a counselor who meets with the students to help meet their emotional needs, and I have a group of teachers that work in our Statesmen Center who work with students with their online courses.
St. Louis American: Tell us about any previous positions you have held, in education or any other field, that contributed to your development as an educator and helped prepare you for your current role.
Lawerence Shields: My previous position was Alternative School supervisor in Hazelwood. I learned how to develop alternative education programs and implement them in this role. I also learned how to be a leader in an educational environment.
St. Louis American: Tell us about any mentors crucial to your development as an educator.
Lawerence Shields: Dr. Darrell Strong has been my educational mentor. He was the head principal when I first started working at Hazelwood Central. And he was the director of Alternative Education when I was an Alternative School supervisor at the Opportunity Center in Hazelwood. He has always made himself available if I ever had questions and/or needed assistance. Additionally, he has modeled for me how to lead in an educational environment. He has challenged me with different tasks and responsibilities, but always takes time to reflect on them with me to help me understand the best way to handle them.
St. Louis American: Tell us about your own educational journey as a student.
Lawerence Shields: My educational journey has been a roller coaster. I did extremely well elementary through high school. I was not ready for college when I went. My maturity and responsibility was not there. My focus was not school. After the birth of my child, I refocused and obtained three degrees. I am currently evaluating doctoral programs. I plan on starting one in the next two years.
St. Louis American: Tell us about your future goals in education.
Lawerence Shields: My current goal is to be the best alternative education educator I can possible be. I realize there is a need for this position, and many people need to understand what alternative education is. I would like to champion that.
St. Louis American: Tell us about any relevant personal information you would like to share with the community – your family, friends, home church, passions.
Lawerence Shields: My wife helped me find the maturity and responsibility that I was missing. She was integral in me completing my first degree. Her love and support helped me finish what I had started.
This year has been a year of transition. Along with the new job, my oldest daughter is a freshman at the University of Loyola Chicago. I am very proud of her. My youngest daughter also changed schools this school year. She is now going to Kennard and has a great teacher, Tiffany Nard.
The love from my parents and sisters helped me through high school. They have always been there for me through my ups and downs.
I have lifelong friends that have been there for me as well. We encourage each other when it is needed and provide and additional layer of support.
My fraternity, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., has encouraged me to achieve every day.
St. Louis American: Feel free to add anything else you would like to share with the community about education or yourself.
Lawerence Shields: I would like to thank Carmella Morris for giving me the money for my last class for my Bachelor's Degree. She removed the final obstacle to allow me to be a college graduate, and I will forever be grateful.