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District 833 Community Education director lands 'ideal job'

Bob Lawrence is School District 833's new Community Education director. He will oversee a department that offers a wide variety of school and community programs. (Bulletin photo by Judy Spooner)

Bob Lawrence, District 833 Community Education's new director, thinks he has the "ideal job," and that's good news for residents of south Washington County.

Lawrence is up to the task in part because he's been involved in community education since he was a teenager growing up in Hastings.

Lawrence started his career as a member of a youth organization through community education and advanced to be a youth member of a community education advisory council.

In college, he majored in organizational communication with a minor in history.

After graduating, he took a summer job in community education in a program for adults with disabilities. He loved the work and stayed more than seven years.

Since he knew he had found his life's work, he returned to college for a master's degree and earned his community education director's license.

He was Litchfield's community education director before coming to School District 833.

"This program is so strong," he said in a recent interview, adding that it's also well-known in the region.

The move also was good for Lawrence because he wanted to be closer to home.

At one time or another, many residents, students and parents have participated in community education programs, which have grown since 1970s when school districts started opening their buildings to the public and organizing activities and programs.

Community education's youth sports and activities have the largest participation but are just some of the programs. District 833 Community Education also offers adult education, aquatics, before- and after-school and summer youth programs, adult basic education, the high school Diploma Center, senior center, Early Childhood and Family Education and others.

Lawrence takes over from longtime director Ernie Pines who retired earlier this year.

After Pines retired, Superintendent Keith Jacobus directed that a top-to-bottom assessment of District 833 Community Education programs be conducted with input from all of the employees and supervisors.

Lawrence is learning about all of the programs through the study, he said, and will use the recommendations in the large file next to his desk.

"I didn't come with an agenda, because the program is already strong," he said. "I'm still a lifelong learner."

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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