top of page

Malcolm Lawrence

Call Him Big M

By Raphael Maurice

"Many of us would wish for worldly treasures. Not Mr. Larry.
If given one wish, he’d rid the world of racism, something
that touches him (and all of us)."

“I think I think I’ve probably found where I’m really supposed to go,” says Malcolm Larry, who is teaching 5th grade at Meridian. He’s also getting his Masters degree in Elementary Education. While he notes that it’s not too common for men to teach elementary school, he also rightly says that “being a black man is important as well,” as far as being a good and helpful presence in the classroom. Malcolm is also tall, at six feet, seven inches. He’s affectionately known as “Big M” by those who know and love him. And the students have every reason to admire and love their teacher. He’s giving everything to Meridian and is here to stay.

When asked about the lay of the land at school, Mr. Larry notes, “We’ve come to have a good group of teachers who care about the students and are building relationships with them. Instead of this just being a job where you come here and get a paycheck and go home.” It might have once been the case that teachers moved on after a year or so, but things have changed for the better, and Malcolm Larry is helping usher in that change. “Some of the teachers even reach out to the students or still have relationships with students after they graduate, which is a real big plus.” To know a face or presence over years, a kind figure that cares, is to know you are loved in a huge way.

But Malcolm Larry is also painfully and keenly aware of problems around him. Societal problems, problems of injustice. He teaches social studies, after all, and can’t help but notice (along with his students), a certain strain of bleak history stretching through America and elsewhere: “We’re in social studies, and we’re learning about how the English people came over, and tricked the Native Americans into giving up their land and pretty much brought them into slavery, and then brought over enslaved people. And they were harmful, hurtful and brutal to them.” There’s a worry in Mr. Larry’s voice on this subject, yet he remains steady and even cheerful. And moreover, he’s correct. How could this be fixed?

Perhaps by first acknowledging that history, by teaching it in an intelligent and humane way, by instilling in each and every student that they deserve to be treated as individuals, even as sacred. Mr. Larry knows this. Shouldn’t we all? Maybe we all could use some growing up. When asked what he’d tell his younger self, Mr. Larry states, “I would say to myself, don’t be so hard on yourself, make mistakes, learn from them. And don’t rush the process because everybody’s story is different. Their story is not going to be your own. And just enjoy the moment. Sometimes we get so caught up and where we’re trying to get to that we don’t even take the time to live in the moment and live in or now.” He’s seeing to it that his students have his full attention, in the moment, in the now. He’s also seeing to it, by being a constant figure in their lives, that his students know him beyond their time in his classroom. That dedication and love, and not just a paycheck. Plus, there’s the idea of a magic wish.

Many of us would wish for worldly treasures. Not Mr. Larry. If given one wish, he’d rid the world of racism, something that touches him (and all of us). He doesn’t blame the young for this societal scourge; after all, someone teaches them that sort of hatred. But to his wish: “If I could just fix racism, that would be it. I always ask myself, how could you hate me? Or dislike me? Just because I don’t look like you? You don’t know me? You’ve never heard me speak. You just don’t like me. To hate because of the way I look… that’s something I don’t understand.”

Malcolm Larry looks at the world and, like any great teacher, assesses and critiques it. He’s teaching his students his methods as well, and he’s going to be a staple at Meridian for a long time. If you see him in the hallway, say hello. You can’t miss him, physically or as a mental presence. Big M is a wish come true.

bottom of page