18 Apr Laurence School
Learning To Give
by Felicia Waldman
Teaching kids to pay it forward is a gift that keeps on giving
Just a short drive north of Sherman Oaks is one of the most beautiful and inspiring places that has touched the lives of many families all over Los Angeles. Step inside Laurence School’s “Secret Garden” and you will find children in kindergarten through sixth grade, smiling every day as they are led through daily lessons and agendas that inspire and encourage them to become good citizens and compassionate individuals.
Laurence School is an independent K-6 day school founded in 1953 by Marvin Jacobson, who along with his wife Lynn, and daughter Lauren, now the Head of School, has created a place that feels like home to families who attend. “Our mission is to create a home away from home, a community that feels safe and grounded, building an atmosphere of limitless potential”.
As you enter, you will pass through a lovely courtyard, with a simple wooden sign nailed to a tree, reading “Secret Garden”. Laurence is a lush and serene environment that is conducive to learning, with a beautifully manicured campus, and colorful student-made artwork and plaques on walls and walkways everywhere. Tucked behind the city streets, you know you have come into a haven where special things are bound to happen. Every day children are encouraged to express themselves, to be compassionate and giving to those who need, and to accept and tolerate those around them.
Lauren Wolke grew up at Laurence, and her parents Lynn and Marvin were, and still are her biggest role models and heroes. “Laurence is dedicated to teaching, reinforcing, and developing empathy in young children. Our children are excited to give back, take initiative, be proactive and use the power of one to make the world a better place. We have partnerships with four organizations that we strive to support each year – the Lowman School for Special Education, the Interfaith Food Pantry, LA Family Housing, and the Boys & Girls Club of the San Fernando Valley. Our students give back by creating “welcome home” baskets for LA Family Housing at Super Service Sunday, holding a Halloween costume drive for the Boys & Girls Club, contributing to weekly Food Pantry collections, and running a turkey drive before Thanksgiving and Toy Drive before Christmas for the families of the Lowman School.”
The school holds a weekly student assembly, which parents are encouraged to attend, and often it is standing room only. This is community building at its finest. From students singing school songs arm in arm, to celebrating the birthdays of the week as children get called up to receive their blue ribbon as the entire room cheers for them, to elaborate class performances, these weekly rituals build confidence, happiness, and deep affection for this special school. The most inspiring part of the Friday assembly is when a child stands up in front of everyone to tell them something amazing they did, and to receive a “Making a Difference Award.” From cutting their long hair to donate to cancer patients through “Locks of Love,” to holding a lemonade stand for their favorite charity, to asking friends to bring books instead of presents to their birthday party to donate to the Laurence Library. What better role models than each other? Week after week, students become little philanthropists right before their parents’ eyes. “To see our kids stand up at an assembly and speak about how they want to give back, it’s so heartwarming, it just makes you feel day by day that we’re raising kids to be good citizens who want to make the world a better place.”
THE FOOD PANTRY
Watch this wonderful video of Laurence School 5th and 6th graders helping out at the North Hollywood Food Pantry.