Friday, July 19, 2013

Ada Lawrence- An Exceptional Teacher

Wayne School ID for Ada Lawrence from the 1953-54 school year.
Ada Lawrence is the third generation of a pioneering Erie family. Her grandmother, Emma Gertrude Lawrence, owned Lawrence Cleaning and Dyeing, and was the first black business woman in town. Her father, Earl Lawrence, taught thousands of budding musicians at schools in Fairview, Summit and Girard, as well as in his own studio and at the Erie Conservatory of Music. 

Ada Lawrence made it her life's mission to educate children, and was hired as a full-time teacher on September 3, 1946. She was the first African-American woman to cross the color line in the Erie School District. She began her 36 year career at McKinley Elementary School at a salary of $1,600 per year.

Miss Lawrence was born in Erie, Pennsylvania. She attended Burns Elementary and Gridley Middle School, and then graduated from Strong Vincent High School (Class of '39) and Cheyney State Teachers College (Class of '43). She was a substitute teacher in the orthogenic department of the Erie School District at the end of World War II, teaching at Burton, McKinley and Jones Elementary schools, and became associated with Dr. Gertrude Barber. Ms. Lawrence also taught at Penn and Wayne schools.

Erie City Council honored Ada Lawrence with a Proclamation on October 3, 2007. This remarkable woman spent her final days at Sunrise Assisted Living at Presque Isle Bay, just one mile from her childhood home at 221 West Front Street, where Harry T. Burleigh was a frequent visitor. 

Ada passed away on March 14, 2014. She was buried at the Erie Cemetery. Read her obituary here. Click here to learn more about Ada Lawrence

Enjoy more historic facts and photos of Erie, PA at: Old Time Erie

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