Making Life More Enjoyable

Getting to know Ms. Lawson
Ms. Lawson, art teacher at Mission for 26 years and counting
Ms. Lawson, art teacher at Mission for 26 years and counting
Chris Lawson

Ms.Lawson runs around, attentive to her space in class. She passes by each cluttered table with art supplies sprawled around, ink stains splattered all over the wooden tables, paperwork of her students laid out to be put away and stored in scattered bins. Every student repeats her name, “Ms.Lawson…”  “Ms.Lawson!” once they enter class. They need her for some supplies or the art they left from last class. Ready to help, she stops what she is doing and goes to find whatever you need in the chaos of her shelves and desks. She runs around with the energy of a hummingbird searching for pollen. This is the common sight when walking into Ms.Lawson’s art class.

Ms. Lawson has been teaching for 26 years and has always had a passion and love for her career. Ms. Lawson always knew she wanted to be an art teacher since she was 8 years old. She is an explorer and loves to experience new things every day. She thinks “experiencing something new makes life more enjoyable.”

Throughout her years of teaching, she met many students that are unique and memorable to her, but one Mission student that stood out to her the most was Tomnika. Tomnika challenged her everyday and taught Ms. Lawson accountability because Tomnika said she thought she wasn’t going to last as an art teacher at Mission. 

Another student that speaks highly of Ms. Lawson is a current student at Mission is Brown. Brown says, “Ms.Lawson has been one of my favorite teachers since freshman year.” Ms. Lawson has always been flexible with her student and she allowed a different way of doing things but still gave them the main idea to still be on track. Brown, a student that takes her AP art class now, says, “If you’re ever lacking a space to be fully creative, you can go to her class and feel accepted.”

When Ms.Lawson first came to Mission, she was ecstatic to work here and planned to stay here for 20 years. She is grateful that she’s been here an extra 6 years. When I asked her how she has personally seen change in Mission around art, she told me she never had to compete with a phone so it was a lot easier for her to ground herself in art. Now it’s different as there is more of a demand to use technology during teaching and how she has to deliver her instructions to a class compared to a few years ago. 

Ms.Lawson points out that Mission used to have classes we know as science rooms today, but they were all art rooms years ago when she first started. Ms. Lawson knows that space-wise the priority has gone to science, but she doesn’t view this as a negative. Ms.Lawson recognizes the appreciation from Mission as a whole has supported the imagination and creativity of art and the students.

Ms. Lawson loves what she does as an artist, a teacher, and an overall listener to her students. The stigma that comes with her chosen career never scared her off from pursuing what she wanted. She calls art, “a tool that allows you to communicate ideas in multiple ways that is incredibly valuable.” She wouldn’t change it for the world as she sees working at Mission as “the way things were meant to be.”

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  • K

    KarenApr 30, 2024 at 11:14 pm

    Ms. Lawson is an excellent high school art teacher..One of the best in San Francisco. Her dedication to her students is reflected in the amazing artwork that is created in her classroom.