Congratulated online by hundreds of students, parents, colleagues, and teachers who taught him, Dr. Shannon Lawrence has been named Jackson County School System Teacher of the Year.
Dr. Lawrence, a career, technology, agriculture education teacher at Jackson County Comprehensive High School, was cheered on by CTAE students who had gathered in the hallways when the announcement was made by Dr. April Howard, JCSS superintendent.
A post on the school system’s Facebook page about his recognition reached more than 23,000 people, garnered more than 5,700 clicks and actions, and generated 1,620 reactions, comments, and shares, according to Karen Bridgeman, JCSS communications coordinator, “far out-numbering any recent post for the district site,” she said.
Comments praising Dr. Lawrence’s influence on the young people he teaches and their lives came from current and former students and their parents, colleagues, and even Dr. Lawrence’s former teachers.
It even generated Dr. Lawrence’s first Facebook post, when he sent a message thanking the Facebook community for its support through his wife, Carol.
“I have never made a FB post before – but so many folks have said so many kind things that I am totally overwhelmed with what I have been shown,” Dr. Lawrence wrote. “Thank you for being so encouraging and KNOW that I am grateful for each of you. … Please don’t be offended by me not responding, or liking, or loving, or whatever is proper on here. But, do know, I really do ‘like’ and ‘love’ you all.”
A team representing JCSS and the Northeast Georgia Regional Education Service Agencies conducted classroom visits with Dr. Lawrence and two other system finalists, Ms. Cindy Lee of South Jackson Elementary School, and Ms. Kasey Sheridan of North Jackson Elementary School, who had been selected as finalists from a group of 10 outstanding school-level Teachers of the Year. It was the second time Lawrence was JCCHS’s teacher of the year, having been previously recognized in 2008.
Dr. Lawrence will represent JCSS in the statewide Teacher of the Year competition later this year.
He is in his fourth year as CTAE teacher at JCCHS and his 14th year as a teacher. A “double dawg,” he earned his bachelor of science degree in agricultural education and his master’s degree in agricultural leadership from the University of Georgia in 2003 and 2004, respectively.
He earned his PhD in agricultural education at Texas A&M University in 2012 and was named outstanding doctoral student in agricultural leadership, education, and communication. His dissertation focused on retaining teachers who were just beginning their careers in education.
In addition to his duties at JCCHS, Dr. Lawrence also serves as an adjunct professor at Emmanuel College in Franklin Springs, where his proposal for a new agricultural education major within the college’s School of Education has recently been approved. He previously taught at Apalachee High School in Winder, Swainsboro High School in Swainsboro, and JCCS’s West Jackson Middle School, and was a lecturer in the Department of Agricultural Education at Clemson University.
In a world that sometimes seems dominated by digital connections, Dr. Lawrence — who has no Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media accounts to which he could direct the teacher-of-the-year reviewers — celebrates his work “engaging students in hands-on application in mechanics and science.” He focuses on instilling “work ethic, critical thinking and time management” with his students while stressing their “need to positively interact in team and leadership roles.”
“(I) knew he would make his mark on the world when he was my student,” Catherine Page, a retired teacher in Metter, wrote in response to the Facebook post.
Breanna Belanger summed up the excitement of many others when she wrote, “I don’t even go to school at Jackson County High, my boyfriend does, and we both show goats. Just getting the great honor to meet Dr. Lawrence through Cody has been rewarding and life-changing, he is such an amazing person and leader! Congratulations Dr. Lawrence!”
Click here to see the Facebook video of school system leaders surprising Dr. Lawrence with the award that started it all.