South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

South St. Louis County News

St. Louis Call Newspapers

New Lindbergh school board director ready for first venture into public service

New Board of Education director excited for change
Photo by Lindbergh Schools
From left: Matt Alonzo, Christy Watz and Andrew Lawson take their oath of office at the Lindbergh Board of Education meeting April 13. Alonzo and Watz, both incumbents, and Lawson, defeated a field of five candidates in the April 2023 election for the three open seats on the board.

Of the three members elected to the Lindbergh Schools Board of Education in April, only one candidate, Andrew Lawson, was new. Lawson was elected alongside incumbents Matt Alonzo and Christy Watz in a competitive school board race that featured five candidates.

Andrew Lawson

Lawson is a senior manager at Ameren’s Digital Command Center. He also has three children attending the Lindbergh district.

Lawson said he realizes it may take him a little bit to adapt to being a school board member.

“There are so many things that go into running a school district and being new to the board means I have a steep learning curve to overcome,” Lawson said. “Thankfully, the Lindbergh administration and staff are top-notch and have been through the onboarding of new board members before, so I am in good hands.”

Lawson also said that this will be his first venture into public service and balancing that along with a career and parenting will be a new task.

“This is also my first time moving into a public service function so it will take some time to find the right balance between being a father and individual community member and my new role of public servant via the school board,” he said. “Once again, I find myself in good hands with my fellow board members being able to offer guidance, counsel and tips to be successful.”

Lawson said his career at Ameren has helped prepare him to lead on the Board of Education.

“At Ameren, I lead a diverse team of technology professionals to deliver our service,” he said. “I have learned over the years that the only way to be a successful leader is to hire the right people and give them the resources, support and opportunity they need to be successful. The same can be said of our school district and I believe we have an excellent team in place.”

Being in a leadership role at Ameren has taught Lawson the importance of listening to co-workers and getting input from others is something that he will value as a schoolboard member.

“A large part of my role at Ameren is listening to input from a wide variety of people in an even wider variety of roles to find opportunities to tune the services my team delivers,” Lawson said. “That ability to absorb and analyze feedback will help as I interact with both our community and our district as I help to shape the future of our schools to continue to deliver the best educational experience to every student in our care.”

Lawson was quite complimentary of the school district for the accomplishments that have been made, but also realizes there is still work to be done to be a top district in the state.

“Lindbergh has come a long way toward meeting students where they are and equipping them with the skills and knowledge needed to be successful,” he said. “As a district, we understand that each child is unique, and our educators work to find the best mechanism to impart knowledge to each student. I am excited to see Lindbergh leading the way in our state to help develop the picture of success and help Missouri move out of legacy methods and into present-day success metrics.”

With constant technology innovations in not just education but the world as a whole, Lawson is pleased that Lindbergh continues to push students and staff to be lifelong learners.

“Our world has changed so much over the past 50 years, and I am glad to see that our district is helping the state adapt to that evolution,” he said. “There is still work to be done as we move in this new direction to make sure we bring everyone, student, teacher and parent, along on the journey and continue to deliver a top-notch education to every student and I am confident that our district and our community is up to the task.”

Inclusion is something that Lawson was outspoken about in his campaign. He thinks equity is something that should continue to be an open discussion and worked on within the district.

“I was privileged to attend the equity night presented by one of our high school clubs and was so moved by the strength and courage of our students who shared their experiences,” he said. “I heard students speak openly of racism, sexism, bias and exclusion that they had each experienced. There is no one I would trust more to tell me what is happening in our schools than the students that are living it. As a district, we need to continue to look for ways to be more inclusive and that starts with having those hard discussions and identifying where we are getting it wrong. We must make the time to solicit feedback and listen to our students to identify where improvements can be made. Inclusion is not something that can be mandated or directed, it is a collective effort, and will require engagement from across our community.”

While change can be scary to some, Lawson is willing to embrace it and hopes the Lindbergh district will continue to do the same.

“We are in a time of transformation as we change how we measure success and help shape the future of how Missouri will measure academic excellence,” he said. “Change is challenging and can be downright scary to some. It is important that, as we move through this process, we take the time to partner with all our stakeholders and progress as a community.”

Lawson also feels that with that change, it’s important to make sure that the district and public has the correct information.

“There is a lot of information available and not all of it is accurate,” he said. “There are many different forces at play in our society and we must remain focused on the fact that our district administration and our teachers are focused on what is best for our children. Every teacher, principal, counselor and administrator has dedicated years of their lives to education and we as a community must trust in them to help find the best path forward.”

While a teacher shortage seems to be an issue almost nationwide, Lindbergh has not had to deal with that issue and Lawson said that is in part because of the open line of communication between the district and the community.

“Thankfully, the teacher shortage hasn’t been impacting Lindbergh the same way it has impacted some other schools in our state,” he said. “This district remains a destination district both for families like my own as well as for professional educators. That is due in large part to the collaboration between our administration, board and our teachers. As I said, the key to success is to hire the right people and give them the resources, support and opportunity they need to be successful, and our district does just that. Moving forward, we must continue to listen to our educators, invest in them as professionals, and trust in them to help continue to deliver exceptional service to our students.”

Lawson also spoke about the importance of the 2024 no-tax bond measure to the district and his hope that the community will support it.

“The 2024 no-tax bond will provide the district with the opportunity to reinvest in our facilities and address some much-needed improvements. Those updates will improve the educational experience of many of our students, extend the life of our real-estate, and add some vital safety measures to help protect our children,” Lawson said. “The great part is that all of this can be accomplished without increasing our tax load. I am hopeful that our community will see the value this bond will add to our district and support this measure when it is on the ballot.”

The newly appointed school board member also spoke highly of Superintendent Tony Lake.

“Dr. Lake has done an excellent job strengthening the relationship between our administration, our board and our teachers,” Lawson said. “It is a partnership that is vital to the success of our district and we would not be where we are today without his leadership. He has also led the way to finding efficiencies within our operations to allow for growth without increasing expense. I firmly believe he is still the right person for the job and look forward to working with him as we move forward.”

Finally, Lawson said he is looking forward to hearing from community members and seeing the successes that are achieved by Lindbergh students.

“I love being a part of our Lindbergh community and am so honored that they have allowed me the opportunity to give back as a board member,” he said. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to attend school events and support our students. I am regularly impressed by just how awesome our students are. I welcome community discussion and engagement and appreciate those that chose to engage in meaningful conversation.”

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