Lawanda Bishop is entering her 11th year as the principal of Rudyard Kipling School (Kipling). During her time at Kipling, Lawanda has overseen strong improvements in the academic rigor and instructional strength of the school. Through a partnership with the Illinois Math and Science Academy (IMSA), Lawanda led the incorporation of IMSA Fusion materials into Kipling curriculum to support Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) instruction. Under her mentorship, teachers have gained a deeper understanding of how to analyze data and design instruction to meets the needs of all students. And with support from her local school council (LSC) members, Lawanda has significantly increased the presence of technology across Kipling classrooms. Now, the school boasts one-to-one device availability for all students and has equipped its classrooms with smart boards.
Moving forward, Lawanda plans to continue investing in the professional learning and development of her teachers. She has created ongoing professional learning opportunities to support teachers in conceptual math knowledge and research-based strategies for informational text across subjects. She will work closely with teachers to design plans for small group instruction that address the varying academic needs of their students. She will also facilitate teacher collaboration by designating grade-level planning meetings as a time to align resources and supports for students based on performance.
Lawanda grew up in Mississippi, where she experienced the early days of school desegregation after the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling. Within Bolivar County School District, Lawanda and her first grade classmates participated in one of the first mixed race classrooms. After graduating from Mississippi State University with a degree in psychology, Lawanda earned her master’s in guidance and counseling from Delta State University while also working as a pre-school teacher. She used her counseling certification to land a position at Hendricks Academy and eventually joined the Kipling staff in 2002 as a counselor. After earning her master’s in educational leadership, Lawanda served as the assistant principal at Kipling for one year before transitioning to her current role as principal.
The moments Lawanda enjoys most as principal are the moments she sees her students succeeding – it could be a kindergartener reading aloud for the first time or an eighth grader walking across the stage at graduation. She believes that providing coherent instruction with personalized learning paths will ensure that every student achieves these kinds of successes. Lawanda is looking forward to collaborating with other school leaders through the Fellowship experience in a way that will push her own practices. She is excited to hear about the strategies and systems that others have implemented to improve their schools.