The public schools system is facing many struggles, from oversize classrooms, the lack of funding and a shortage of staff, just to name a few. Nevertheless, not all hope is gone. There is a resource at Thurston High School that could help minimize a horrible phenomenon called “Classroom to Prison Pipeline.” The resource is called the Student Responsibly Center. Lawrence Simmons is the Coordinator at the high school. He works with the principle staff to handle truancy and behavioral problems. Teachers send him students that are excessively tardy to their class or deemed to be disrespectful or insubordinate during class. Simmons says he tries to find the core of the issues by asking questions and giving the student respect and providing an intervention for them. Simmons says, “I try to make sure they understand the problem and make sure they don’t repeat those particular actions by learning from what was a not so good decision.”
Because of over crowdedness in many public schools, teachers are not able to give one-on-one individual attention to students. Moreover, because of this some students act out. Simmons, on the other hand, has an advantage as the SRC Coordinator in that he is able to give that individual attention that a student may be yearning for. There is motivational saying posted in his room that students cannot help but to read. He has the opportunity to give direct instruction to students outside of what could be an embarrassing environment for them. Simmons says, “Once you share with someone that you care, they will be more accountable for their actions. They are the one’s that have to go out there and do the work”. Simmons looks at himself as a student motivator or their cheerleader. He encourages them to do better and make better choices.
Simmons says his background in corporate America, training and developing has equipped him to help train and develop students. If it can be done for professionals, it can be done for students. He says, “Being a student is their profession right now, and they could develop some type of excellence as well. Simmons prides himself on being part of the faculty that has a real connection with the students. He would rather them not have to come to his center but, if they do, his goal is to change their path and to change their minds to begin to make better choices.