Teresa Lawrence, Ph.D., superintendent of the Grand Island Central School District, has been selected to receive the 2016 Graduate School of Education Distinguished Alumni Award.
This honor is bestowed upon an alumnus who has impacted the field of education through an exemplary history of research, teaching and service. Lawrence is recognized for her contributions to the field of education in Western New York.
Lawrence says her decision to complete a Ph.D. in social foundations at the University at Buffalo was simple to make. Having already completed the necessary leadership and administrative schooling and certificates to work as a school district superintendent, she had the desire to expand her perspective of what it meant to serve in a leadership position.
"School is a social experience. As such, I wanted to participate in a program that would deepen my understanding of the role which school plays, not from an administrative perspective but from a social perspective," said Lawrence. "Every day as I walk the halls, interact with students, faculty and staff, and with every decision I make as a school leader, I ask myself three questions: 1. What message are we sending students about who they are? 2. What meaning are they making about themselves as a result? 3. How is that meaning preparing them for what comes next?"
"The Common Core Standards are explicit in telling schools what students need to know academically at every grade level and upon graduation. While schools have a responsibility to convey content, school leaders have an obligation to know the context in which the learning takes place. The best I can do for the students and the community I serve is to apply theory into my daily practice. Completing my Ph.D. in social foundations at UB prepared me to do just that," said Lawrence.
In addition to completing her Ph.D. at the University at Buffalo Graduate School of Education, Lawrence also completed her master's degree, administrative certificates, and an advanced certificate in educational study at UB.
Lawrence has been active in the Western New York educational arena for 25 years, serving in the roles of teacher, lecturer, consultant and staff developer; and currently as superintendent of schools for the Grand Island Central School District. She has invested her energy, talent and spirit in the Western New York community and is known for her commitment to mentoring and coaching aspiring school leaders. She serves on boards and committees that seek to improve her community.
Last fall, Lawrence was identified by Business First as one of WNY's Women of Influence.
Lawrence will be presented the award at the University at Buffalo Graduate School of Education commencement exercises on Friday, May 13.