Heroes K-8 Academy
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Injury opened door to the classroom for Heroes teacher
BY JON POMPIA
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
Note: In recognition of Teacher Appreciation Week, this is the second in a series on local educators impacting students’ lives, often times without much fanfare.
Although education was not Yolonda Lawson’s first career choice, she could never see herself doing anything else.
“The kids ask me if I ever leave the school,” the sixth-grade math teacher at Heroes K-8 Academy said with a smile. “They think I live here.”
Long before she found her calling, Lawson was working in the medical field when she suffered an injury serious enoughto require rehabilitation and therapy.
“It was during vocal rehab that they wanted to find out what else I could do, something that was less demanding physically,” Lawson explained. “As it turned out, the injury was a blessing in disguise because it gave me time to think, to see what else I could do.”
As a youth pastor, Lawson had long heardthat she was indeed the stuff that dedicated teachers are made of.
“And I always loved working with kids,” Lawson said.
And so, at age 30, she enrolled at Pueblo Community College and began her journey to an eventual master’s degree and, to date, a 10-year career in teaching.
“I chose elementary education because I believe in making a difference early. As a youth pastor, I learned that sometimes it’s hard to instill something in 16- or 17-year-olds.
“And as it turned out, sixth grade needed me and I totally fell in love with sixth grade.”
In the classroom, Lawson is of the strict belief that “every student has the ability to learn. The key is finding out what that avenue for learning is.”
Working with children of all abilities and from varying circumstances has its particular challenges. But before learning can even begin, Lawson has to ensure her students are in the right frame of mind.
“It goes beyond teaching,” she explained. “We are here to help the students transition from home to school and that right there is often a struggle.”
Regardless of the outside factors at play, Lawson holds every one of her students to the same high standard: “Excellence in all things.”
It’s something she herself aspires to.
“I never look at the clock. Rather, I go by whether I achieved what I set out to achieve today. Did I make that happen? That’s my standard.”
By all accounts, she is making it happen.
“Ms. Lawson is respectful and a good teacher,” said Xavier Lucero, 12. “But she’s definitely strict. If you start acting up, though, she becomes the Hulk.
“But that’s only because she cares about us. And she makes math fun.”
“Yolonda is not only a leader among her middle- school peers but also among all staff,” said Principal Marne Autobee. “Her input is highly valued and she is an innovator, committed to seeing Heroes K-8 Academy succeed. She fully expects her students to perform the best that they can.”
“I can’t wait to get to work every day,” Lawson added. “I don’t have kids of my own so these are my kids. I am happy to be a part of their lives.”
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New Security Procedures for entering the school
In an effort to keep our students and staff safe and the focus on learning and achievement, Heroes K-8 Academy has a new procedure for entering the school building. After a visitor is buzzed in the front doors, he/she will need to stop at the Reception Desk. If a student is tardy to school, the tardy slip will be given at the Reception Desk. If a parent/guardian needs to have their child dismissed early, they will need to tell the receptionist, who will call for them. Visitors who need to go into the school or the main office will need to sign in and obtain a Visitor’s Pass.
We are excited about the new Reception Area, which offers comfortable seating, a monitor that will allow you to view announcements from the school, and ongoing student work. Please welcome our new Receptionists, Mrs. Roland (mornings) and Mrs. Mahinske (afternoons)!