Curtis Lawrence was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. He started his teaching career at the college preparatory Frederick Douglass Academy in West Harlem, where he served as a history teacher, history department chair and dean of students. In his first year, he gave his seventh-graders the 11th-grade high school state history exam; the next year they outperformed the 11th-graders, scoring 85 percent and higher.
In 2002, he was recognized by Legacy magazine as a National History Teacher of the Year. He helped his school earn the Schott’s Award for consistently graduating the highest number of black and Hispanic males and getting them into four-year colleges and universities. Mr. Lawrence also co-led student trips to England, Ghana, Greece and Egypt, and taught high school in Elmina, Ghana, for a semester.
As a member of the national principal training program New Leaders for New Schools, Mr. Lawrence served as assistant principal of the Eagle Academy for Young Men in the South Bronx, where he partnered with R&B singer Usher Raymond and the art teachers to transform school culture. He served as assistant principal and interim principal of the Marion P. Thomas Charter School in Newark, N.J., where his efforts to reduce violence and suspensions led to the school’s removal from New Jersey’s persistently dangerous schools list.
Mr. Lawrence has a B.A. from Syracuse University, an M.S. from Southern Illinois University and a M.S. Ed. from Baruch College. He is committed to Friendship’s core values and mission of getting 100 percent of scholars to and through a four-year college or university. He understands education is a tool that empowers communities and diminishes the effect of socioeconomic, ethnic and racial barriers