Congratulations to Principal Derrick Lawson of Indio High School!
Principal Derrick Lawson of Indio High School in Indio, CA, noticed virtual attendance dropping from 94% to as low as 70% during the COVID-19 pandemic. Like hundreds of other schools hit hard by the pandemic, Indio High School’s vulnerable populations were disproportionately suffering. Half the students lived with family members who had gotten sick, a third lacked stable housing, and a quarter had begun working full time or were caring for younger siblings while at home.
As Lawson and his assistant principal worried about their missing students, their well-being, and whether they were on track to graduate, they took it upon themselves to attempt to reach these missing students in person and reestablish a connection.
Principal Derrick Lawson’s efforts on behalf of his school and students and his tireless grassroots advocacy work has earned him the honor of being named the 2021 NASSP Advocacy Champion of the Year.
Lawson is currently the NASSP California State Coordinator, a role in which he recruits and organizes school leaders across the state to participate in grassroots advocacy work. He encourages his colleagues to contact their elected officials—to make sure those policymakers are hearing from educators when considering decisions that will impact schools. Lawson plays an active role with the Association of California School Administrators to help promote policy at the state level that supports educators, schools, and the academic achievement and well-being of all students.
He works hard to build lasting, meaningful relationships with lawmakers, including his Congressman, Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-CA), whose niece attended Indio High School. When the congressman came to events at the school, Lawson made a point to welcome him and talk about the issues that matter most to principals.
Lawson’s rapport with the congressman and his office has grown stronger. When Rep. Ruiz was going to play in the 2019 Congressional Baseball Game at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., he asked Lawson if he could wear an Indio High School jersey—choosing to represent Indio High School over his own high school’s jersey!
Lawson dedicates his time to promoting the type of public policy that will ensure future success for generations of students to come. He also won the Distinguished Service to NASSP Award in 2020 for his service in contributing significantly to NASSP’s vision to support great leaders in every school committed to the success of each student.
Congratulations to Principal Derrick Lawson for being named Advocacy Champion of the Year! Watch the award presentation and learn more about how you can become involved in NASSP’s advocacy work.
The Advocacy Champion of the Year award recognizes an individual for outstanding and significant contributions to advancing the policy agenda of NASSP and advocating on behalf of all school leaders to ensure the success of each student. These individuals elevate the voice and influence of school leaders in federal, state, and local policy and public discourse.