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Eric Lawson: Change agent at River City Early College

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Eric Lawson (photo by Kelda Bailess)

If you ask students at River City Early College what Eric Lawson teaches, you’re not likely to hear about specific subjects. What you will hear is, “Mr. Lawson doesn’t do average.”

If you ask faculty and staff members what Eric Lawson teaches, you’ll likely hear “Mr. Lawson teaches kids that they matter.”

When Lawson himself was asked what he teaches, he said, “I teach Leadership. I teach students to apply life habits through the Leader In Me program.”

The Leader in Me initiative is a product of Franklin Covey Education and is centered around ingraining eight specific life habits in students to ensure each person’s future success. All students in the Vicksburg Warren School District are educated in the habits by a certified leadership instructor. The pinnacle of the program’s success for schools is being named a Lighthouse School. In March of this year, with Lawson at the helm of the program, River City Early College was the first high school in the world to earn that distinction.

For those reasons and more, Eric Lawson was chosen as RCEC’s Teacher of the Year for 2020-2021.

“Mr. Lawson was a natural choice for this honor,” said Kelda Bailess, lead teacher at RCEC. “He doesn’t just teach. He builds genuine relationships with our students. His lessons go beyond the walls of a classroom.”

Lawson has also been named one of the top five leadership teachers in the nation.

“The students of RCEC are fortunate to learn from Mr. Lawson’s modeling and leadership,” said Lonnie Moore, senior consultant with Franklin Covey Education. “His ‘butterfly effect’ will be felt for generations to come.”

Lawson was not always a teacher, but he has been an instrumental part of countless children’s lives. He owned Planet 4 Kidz, a local business aimed at caring for children in a safe, entertaining setting, from 2003 to 2016. In 2018, he returned to college and earned a master’s degree in teaching from Alcorn State University. He has been at RCEC since 2017.

Lawson said his favorite part of teaching is seeing his students conquer public and private victories as they mature as leaders.

“I love letting my students share their individual stories and learn about the uniqueness of their peers,” he said. “They need to be encouraged to see people as people. Everyone matters. Acceptance and kindness go a very long way.”

Lawson also teaches his students the importance of setting goals and working until they’re met. “I don’t believe in settling for average, and I don’t expect my students to, either,” he said.

“My ultimate goal is to be an agent of change in the lives of this generation,” he added.

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Super Brody turns six and meets his hero – VIDEO

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Photo by David Day

One of Vicksburg’s tiniest heroes celebrated his sixth birthday in a big way.

Photo by David Day

Brody Larry took a break from fighting his cancer Tuesday to celebrate his birthday. Many of his friends at the Vicksburg Police Department, Warren County Sheriff’s Office and Vicksburg and Warren County fire departments joined the parade of family and friends to honor him on his special day.

The Make A Wish Foundation went a step further to make Brody’s birthday a memorable one by arranging a very special appearance from his hero, Spiderman.

Mom, Bridgette, looks on as Brody embraces his hero (photo by David Day)

Make A Wish also gifted Brody an Amazon shopping spree, where he picked out a Spiderman themed bedroom makeover set, an ATV and a PlayStation 5.

Brody is fighting a very rare and aggressive form of brain cancer, diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, and has been receiving treatment at St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

Brody’s mother has left the workforce and dedicated herself to caring for Brody and getting him the treatments he needs. The family has set up a Go Fund Me account for anyone who wishes to contribute.

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Those who keep us safe: Carl Carson

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(photo courtesy Carl Carson)

Back in 1990, a close friend talked Carl Carson into joining the Vicksburg Fire Department. Thirty years later, Carson is still at the department and loving every minute of it.

“I had no idea I would be here this long, but once I got into the service, the love of people kept me here,” he said.

Carson is a people person, and he believes he was put on this Earth to help people.

“Being able to be there for people in their most vulnerable time really has been the drive in my career,” he said.

The Utica, Mississippi, native comes from a large family who taught him to be there for one another during hard times. He believes his upbringing played a part in him enjoying his career.

“I’m not a hero,” he said. “It’s just a part of the job and how I was raised. I grew up helping people.”

Carson is the battalion commander for the Vicksburg Fire Department. In his three-decade career, he has felt the most success when he was serving his community, and he does not need a spotlight to do so.

“I don’t need the front row,” he said. “I’m more of the silent helper. I do my job to the best of my ability. I’m honest and treat everyone equally and fair.”

Carson has been married to his college sweetheart since 1986 and the couple have two adult sons, three granddaughters and one grandson.

His family understands and accepts the career path he has chosen, but it hasn’t always been easy on family life.

“I’ve sacrificed a lot of Christmases, holidays, birthdays, and ballgames to do what I do,” Carson said. “Even though I miss out on something, my heart is always right there with them. My family has always known I love them and love what I do.”

(photo courtesy Carl Carson)

Carson’s love for public service evidently rubbed off onto his family because one of his sons is a police officer with the Vicksburg Police Department.

The fire department never closes. The men and women at the Vicksburg Fire Department stand ready to serve the community at a moment’s notice without regard to holidays.

“My mom has a picture of my entire family — all of my siblings, their spouses, my children, my nieces, nephews, cousins — and I am the only person not in this particular photo because I had to work on Christmas Day,” Carson said. “I often tell that story and feel that moment of not being there, but I knew, and family knew, I would have to sacrifice moments like that.”

Carson laughed and said he has often thought about photoshopping himself into the picture.

Even though firefighters may miss out on holidays with their biological family, Carson said the firefighters make a family as well.

“The men and women I work with are my family away from family,” he said. “We watch each other’s kids grow up, and our families know each other.”

It is a bond like no other. Fighting fires is a life-saving act that cannot be done alone.

“We are one big family,” Carson said. “We are a team. I would put my life on the line for them, and I know they would do the same for me. It doesn’t matter their race, gender, age or rank. We are all out there trying to do a job and do it safely.”

Vicksburg being a small town, Carson said firefighters often run into family members and friends who need fire and emergency medical service.

“Anytime you deal with your own family members or anyone you know is hard and it really touches you,” he said.

Carson said he goes above and beyond for everyone, but when he knows the person, he feels extra pressure to be his very best.

Three decades have passed and Carson is still with the Vicksburg Fire Department and has not announced any particular date to break out the golf clubs and retire, but he has some thoughts of what he will do when that day arrives.

“When that comes, I can’t wait to spend time with my wife, kids and grandkids,” he said. “They are my inspiration.”

Although retirement is on the horizon, the people of Vicksburg still need Carson. His passion for the community is unwavering, and his love for people runs deep.

“People, people, people, people — that’s just what it’s about,” Carson said. “Even though my job deals with people when they’re in distress, I try to bring so much love and joy to them and put a smile on their face during a devastating time. It really goes a long way.

“This is so much more than a job. It goes beyond the job.”

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Josh Morgan wins the VDN Head Coach of the Year award

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VDN Head Coach of the Year Josh Morgan (photo by Ced Tillman)

Warren Central High School football coach Josh Morgan is the Vicksburg Daily News Head Coach of the Year.

Morgan played football at Warren Central in the late 1990s under his father Robert Morgan. He eventually committed to play football at Mississippi State University where he was a star safety and named to the All SEC team in 2001.

Morgan began coaching at the University of Memphis in 2004 as a graduate assistant before returning to Warren Central in 2006 to be the Vikings’ defensive coordinator.

In 2010, Morgan was named as the Vikings’ head coach after the retirement of Curtis Brewer.

Morgan struggled in his first two years as head coach. The team went 2-9 in 2010 and 1-10 in 2011. He broke through in 2012, when the Vikings their first playoff appearance under his leadership.

Morgan and the Vikings have made it to the playoffs each year since 2012, and this year marked his ninth consecutive season making it to the postseason.

The Vikings had a 9-3 record this season, and made it to the second round of the playoffs. They finished with the best record out of the four high schools in Vicksburg.

Morgan is the second coach to win the VDN Coach of the Year award after Vicksburg Junior High Coach Larry Carter Jr. won it last year.

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