Mount Alvernia Academy Sixth Grade Reading and Language Arts teacher, Ms. Jennifer Lawhorn, has devoted her career to helping children prepare for a bright future, shepherding them forth on the next leg of their academic and life journeys.
It can be a bitter-sweet job and by no means easy, but Ms. Lawhorn possesses the fire and self-assuredness needed to help students at a critical juncture in their academic careers.
Her love of teaching began early, kindled by her incredible Fourth Grade teacher in her hometown of Sudbury, Massachusetts. “His fun-loving spirit and positive reinforcement helped me grow immensely as an individual,” she reflected. “When he passed away during my Eighth Grade year after a courageous battle with cancer, I promised myself to continue to live as passionately and fiercely as he did.”
Ms. Lawhorn channeled that passion and love of helping others grow by completing a degree in criminology at the University of Tampa. There, she volunteered within the juvenile justice program and worked with children and young adults on everyday life-skills training. Ultimately, she entered teaching and earned her Masters in Education from Lesley University, teaching at both private and public schools before arriving at MAA.
She immediately felt at home here, connecting with the spirit of collaboration among our faculty. “I love the fast-paced environment. I have the encouragement to try new and inventive things and the continued collaboration between colleagues to ensure students move forward with a great, lasting impression on their academic and social growth here at MAA,” she stated.
For Ms. Lawhorn, teaching Sixth Grade provides a unique challenge, helping students on the cusp of young adulthood find a more mature sense of self. “ There is never a dull moment teaching this age,” she laughed. “Sixth Graders are incredibly bright and talented. They are becoming aware of their strengths and are on the trajectory toward young adulthood. They keep you on your toes and excited to be part of the classroom experience,” she smiled.
Though it may be their last year at MAA, she takes great pride and is humbled by the opportunity to make such a critical impact. “I treasure the opportunity to watch my students grow exponentially throughout the school year, academically, physically, and emotionally,” she said. That joy, though, also comes with a bit of sadness, because, at year’s end, Ms. Lawhorn has to watch her students journey out on their next big adventure off MAA’s hill. “Saying goodbye is never easy, but knowing they are heading off strong to a new, bigger world is a bittersweet reward.”
As this year’s Sixth Grade Class prepares to graduate and begin the next chapter in their academic journeys, Ms. Lawhorn’s advice for them is always to “respect one another’s differences, believe in yourself and your loved ones.” Our Sixth Graders, and all of us here at MAA are lucky to have such an incredible guide for our graduating students. They are definitely leaving here well prepared. Thank you, Ms. Lawhorn!