Remembering Mr. Tony Lawrence z”l

Photo courtesy of Jamie Aftalion '18

Mira Berenbaum and Jared Hasen-Klein
Editor-in-Chief and Webmaster

It is with deep sadness that Milken mourns the loss of longtime US History and AP Government teacher, Mr. Tony Lawrence. Mr. Lawrence passed away on Wednesday, November 29, after a long battle with lung cancer. He was beloved for his quick wit, compassion and knowledge. In his memory, The Roar asked students, faculty and alumni to share some of their favorite memories with this special man.

Photo courtesy of Saba Amid ‘17

“I’ve know Mr. Lawrence for 17 years. Around 15 years ago, we were at a town meeting and I can’t remember the name of the song, but there was Israeli music playing at the town meeting. Suddenly, everyone started looking at the back row of the gym and laughing because Mr. Lawrence was dancing. I thought, ‘this guy is different in a good way.’ This story typifies who he was: he brought a lot of joy, was able to bring people together, and enjoyed the moment. I will always remember him for that biggest influence: the way he looked at the world in such a positive way.”
-Mr. Steve Bloom

“When Mrs. Khorsandi was pregnant, Mr. Lawrence was my temporary advisor. Not a minute went by during advisory that was not full of laughter and Mr. Lawrence cracking jokes and making fun of us. He even let us call him “Tony” sometimes. At the shabbaton, he ripped apart the challah and threw pieces at people and yelled ‘HEY, you’re a poopy!’ and we all cried from laughing so hard. He started singing Christmas songs on Shabbat and Mr. Shapiro was not pleased. We were so grateful to have someone step in that cared about our well-being so deeply and made such an effort to get to know us. Mr. Lawrence being my temporary advisor was the reason I decided to take AP Government during my senior year and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about something he taught me. What he taught me went far beyond the amendments and checks and balances, but truly impacted who I am as a person in our society. I never had a teacher that pushed their students to reach their full potential as much as he did. Mr. Lawrence was the most dedicated, caring, loving, intelligent, and humble person I’ve encountered in my life so far.”
-Hannah Newman ’17

Photo courtesy of Ms. Debra Sokolow

“Mr. Lawrence was always a caring teacher. Even though I only had the pleasure of being in his class for one year, I could tell how highly he regarded our class. I started off sitting towards the back of the classroom, but after a few weeks he told me that he wanted me to sit closer to the front because in the back he could never hear me speak. I was surprised by how much he cared and it meant a lot to me that he valued every voice in the classroom.”
-Izzy Williams ’18

“When Mr. Lawrence let a class out early once in awhile, he would tell them that if anyone asked them why they had been dismissed early, they should say they were in Ms. Guth’s class and she had let them out before the period was over…”
-Ms. Ingrid Guth

“Mr. Lawrence is the reason I am a Public Policy major. He was my teacher for two years. As my US history teacher, Mr. Lawrence made me realize how much I loved history. His class quickly became my favorite class during my junior year. I looked forward to it every “B Day.” I never thought I was interested in taking AP Government until Mr. Lawrence approached me one day and said I would succeed in that class. Mr. Lawrence always pushed me to be the best student I could be. I took his AP Government class, which was dang hard, and did fairly well in his class and on the AP exam. My favorite memory of Mr. Lawrence has to be when I was playing music on my way to class, and Mr. Lawrence comes out dancing with one of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen. Thank you for believing in me, Mr. Lawrence. That’s all a student could ever ask for.”
-Avia Cohen ’15

“What I remember most about Mr. Lawrence was his personality and the way he taught with enthusiasm. His character made me excited to go to class and learn.”
-Greg Danz ’18

“I have so many wonderful memories about Mr. Lawrence. I will never forget any of his hilarious yet extremely informative lectures. He always made learning so interesting and I could always tell his true passion for AP Government. I can still hear him saying ‘Quiz positions!’ before every class. My favorite memory is when I worked really hard to write a song for a town meeting and during class he publicly complemented me on my work. I felt so appreciative that he recognized every student for not just who they were in the classroom but who they were anywhere else. Mr. Lawrence also made me more aware of the world around me. Because of him, I now read The Hill, Politico, and think critically about politics. I wish I could have been in his class during the most recent election. Thank you Mr. Lawrence for everything. I know Scarlett Johansson misses you too.”
-Anna Stern ’14

“For the brief time I was in Mr. Lawrence’s class, I knew him as a funny and happy person who never failed at making people smile. On the last day that I saw him, class was just ending and he said some funny joke. Walking out of the class laughing, I said ‘thank you, Mr. Lawrence’ like I always did. I didn’t realize that would be the last thing I said to him.”
-Talia Harris ’18

“Before each AP Government lecture, Mr. Lawrence would yell ‘Quiz positions!’ And no matter how bad a day I was having, those two words always made me laugh. I looked forward to those two words before each lecture, and can still hear them in my head to this day.”
-Yakov Mamzhi ’13

“I knew Tony since he came to Milken about 17 years ago. Every time I would walk into the Faculty Lounge, I would hear his booming voice (and always eating cottage cheese!): ‘Monica, how are you?’ I miss his face, kindness and humor.”
-Ms. Monica Daranyi

“When I was out on maternity leave, Mr. Lawrence subbed for my advisory. He would send me little notes asking me about the baby and telling me he’d bring snacks when I decided to visit. The kids would take selfies with him and send them to me while I was home to make me laugh. He was the sweetest to them and that meant a lot to me.”
-Ms. Brittney Khorsandi

Photo courtesy of Brian Pearlman ‘17

“Mr. Lawrence was my advisor during the first semester of junior year while Mrs. Khorsandi was out on maternity leave. For our last advisory with Mr. Lawrence, and as a Hanukkah gift, he took all of us down to the Mart and bought each advisee something.”
-Brian Pearlman ’17

 

“Mr. Lawrence was my 11th grade Honors US History teacher and 12th Grade AP Government teacher. I really wanted to take the AP US History exam and Mr. Lawrence encouraged me to do it. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of US history and politics and helped me fill in any gaps between the AP curriculum and honors. He encouraged me to succeed and I scored a 5! After taking his US Government class it confirmed my interest in studying Political Science in college. I now work for the New York City Mayor– building on a foundation in government that started with Mr. Lawrence. I know for many MCS alumni working in politics and policy, his classes were the entry-point into this rewarding career track.”
-Aaron Ordower ’04

“Tony always put the humor in every faculty member at the staff celebration by giving awards, but when Arturo Lugo escorted Tony by wheelchair to the flagpole on his last day of teaching he told him, ‘put my chair inside the security office so it does not get wet – put a sign on it. I’ll be back in the morning.’”
-Mr. Rafael Rios

Photo courtesy of Ms. Debra Sokolow

“I never had him as a teacher, but I had college counseling in the same room that he would teach in and every time we would walk in he would make a joke about the tense college experience. It always stuck out to me because of the way he could turn every situation into a positive experience.”
-Isa Zweiback ’18

“During my junior year of high school, I took AP Government with Mr. Lawrence. As one of four juniors in my class, I was so intimidated and felt out of place. However, Mr. Lawrence made everyone feel welcome in his classroom in addition to adding his sense of humor into everything he did. His AP Government class gave me a love for politics that I would not have found otherwise. There was no other class in high school where I learned nearly as much critical and relevant information than his. He encouraged students to voice their opinions on controversial topics as well as sharing his experiences from actually witnessing some of the political events we learned about in his lifetime. During my junior year, Milken brought back Tiyulim week so I was lucky enough to also go to New Orleans with Mr. Lawrence. It is safe to say that Mr. Lawrence definitely made the trip what it was for all of us who participated. There was never a second where he wasn’t engaging in activities with students, telling us stories from his life, or just making the group laugh in general.

Photo courtesy of Ms. Debra Sokolow

Whether it be sitting at dinner with him at the Tulane Hillel or walking around the National World War II museum, his stories and insight about absolutely anything engaged and touched each student. Mr. Lawrence was one of my favorite teachers at Milken and was definitely the one that made the biggest impact on my decision for college majors and classes. Every time I read news articles or talk about politics with friends, I owe all the knowledge and understanding to Mr. Lawrence and his AP Government class. Thank you Mr. Lawrence for being a light for everyone at Milken. We’ll miss you very much.”
-Amanda Hartstein ’17

If you have your own memories of Mr. Lawrence that you would like to share, please feel free to do so in the comments below.

“Study hard. Study often.”


This is the video that was made in honor of Mr. Lawrence for the memorial service on December 1, courtesy of Dr. Nick Holton.

There will be a memorial service at Milken, tomorrow, December 1, to honor Mr. Lawrence. Students, faculty and alumni are invited to come together in the Hollander Gymnasium to remember and honor Mr. Lawrence. יהי זכרו ברוך. May his memory be a blessing.

8 COMMENTS

  1. It’s hard to put into words what Tony Lawrence meant to me. I had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Lawrence, first sixteen years ago as my US History and and AP Government teacher, and then as my colleague when I began teaching here at Milken six years ago. I was even lucky enough to get the desk next to him in the workroom!

    Mr. Lawrence came into the classroom every day with so much excitement. He gave the best lectures. I remember sitting in the front row in 2-203 racing to try and write down every word in my notebook. Of all of my high school courses, the notebooks from his classes are the only ones I kept and still have siting in a box in my childhood bedroom.

    This year things really came full circle for me as I prepared to teach the Government elective, the same material that Tony taught me fifteen years ago. Although he was now my colleague, Tony never stopped being my teacher. I was very nervous to teach the class as I had some very big shoes to fill. In preparation, Tony met with me regularly and graciously shared all of his materials and old tests.

    When I went out on maternity leave last month, Tony was slated to teach my class. I told the students that they would be learning from the master and that they definitely wouldn’t miss me while I was gone. Sadly, Tony wasn’t well enough to take over for me and those students never benefited from his enthusiasm and expertise. I am the person and teacher I am today, because Tony Lawrence was my teacher.

  2. I taught in Mr. Lawrence’s room after lunch, and when I came in to prep the room, he would always be there and would bust my chops every day. I miss that so much.

  3. Mr. Lawrence was a Hoosier, like me, and every basketball season, we’d talk at length about IU ball. He kept me updated with inside news, gossip, and reflections about how the team was playing. It was a really important and lovely way to connect with home for me. I will miss him immensely and remember him with every IU game.

  4. Mr. Lawrence was my son Aaron’s 11th grade Honors US History teacher and 12th Grade AP Government teacher. He was a dedicated teacher who went beyond to make sure students were well prepared for the class they were taking. His good natured wit was entertaining, and his expectations in the classroom were high.
    After I joined the Milken staff I got to work with Mr. Lawrence on several student trips. He was faculty on a Panim el Panim trip to Washington, DC in 2009, A Panim el Panim trip to Sacramento, Ca in 2010, and a Rebuilding New Orleans tiyul in 2016. On each trip he provided the expertise, support, and encouragement students needed to understand complicated issues like net neutrality, the farm bill, gun control, and Israel and lobby their representatives in Congress or in state government. In New Orleans Mr. Lawrence led students through the World War II Museum and truly elevated the experience. He also participated in discussions about the complicated history of the colony going from French to Spanish control, the Confederacy and finally the United States. Always an early riser, Mr. Lawrence woke up the students with a recording of a trumpet playing reveille every morning. They were always on time. On our return flight from Sacramento on Southwest lightening hit the airplane on the wing next to the window where we were seated. We were surprised and shaken, but the plane flew on and landed in LA safely. On all these trips he was a great team player and partner. He contributed all of his talent and skill to improving the program for students and faculty alike. He always had a smile on his face, and that is how I will remember him.

  5. Tony was a dear and beloved friend and a colleague. In my ten years at Milken, every time I got a chance to be around Tony, whether working with him or just running into him on campus, I always felt that my day just got a little better and brighter. Good bye, dear friend, I will really miss you!

  6. Mr. Lawrence was my 11th grade U.S. History teacher, and after enjoying his class and teaching so much, I decided to enroll in his AP Government class the following year. AP Gov was my most difficult and stressful class all senior year, but it was also my favorite. Mr. Lawrence taught with such passion and enthusiasm that really engaged his students, which I admired greatly.

    I remember going to DC for the AIPAC High School Summit during October of my junior year, and my fellow classmates and I took a picture in front of the Lincoln Memorial to send to Mr. Lawrence. When I got back to school the next week, the photo was on the wall in his classroom beside his collage of American heroes. He said he loved the photo and was proud of us for exploring part of our U.S. history, and kept the photo there for the remainder of the year. He inspired every student that walked into his classroom, and his dedication to his students was impeccable. I am grateful I had the opportunity to learn from him for two years, though the lessons I learned have stuck with me well after my years at Milken. Thank you, Mr. Lawrence, for instilling in me a love of learning and for encouraging me to “study hard, study often.” You will be greatly missed. RIP

  7. I️ have known Tony since I️ was very young. He coached me in baseball when he was in college and then was my freshman Civics teacher in Mooresville Indiana . He was always a ball of laughs and I️ echo all the recent students regarding his special teaching abilities. Tony was a friend, a a coach , a teacher and a special person. I️ had not seen him in 20years. While traveling on business to LA, called him up and of course he said I️ will be there in 39 minutes and we’re going to dinner!! He will be missed by all is us old friends back in Indiana! Rest In Peace Tony!

  8. Seeing the community come together over this sad news proves how significant Mr. Lawrence’s impact on us is. I was not in his class, and yet he was my teacher. It’s incredible how much a brief remark or a smile can teach you.

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