5 things you didn’t know about LAWRENCE COCOBy NIKKI ROWELL,
He is an attorney and practiced for 16 years before he went back to work at Prep. His brother, Lea Coco, is an actor. Coaching his sons in sporting events is one of his favorite things to do. An avid reader, he reads books in all genres. In his spare time, he enjoys a trip to the movie theater. Often on his own.
The four years of a student’s high school career are designed to help shape him or her for life after school.
Lawrence Coco, the Head of School at Jackson Preparatory School, said his years at Prep were instrumental in preparing him for his future before he even entered high school.
“That’s where I transitioned from being a child to a young man to a young adult going to college. Prep was instrumental in teaching me responsibility and what’s important to me, how to learn, how to take initiative,” Coco said. “One of the hallmarks of our institution is excellence and being prepared. Prep, for me, did an incredible job in preparing me for life in general.”
Coco graduated from Prep in 1992, the same year as his wife, Rebecca. He attended the University of Mississippi where he graduated Magna Cum Laude, double majoring in English and history.
After graduation, he worked at Prep as an American literature and history teacher, and as assistant high school principal. He also coached football and track. Later, he earned his juris doctorate from the University of Mississippi in 2001 and practiced law in Mississippi before returning to Prep.
Coco left his practice, McCraney, Coco and Lee, PLLC, to take on the role. He and Rebecca have been married for 19 years and have three children: Mary Robinson, 10th grade at Prep; Thomas seventh grade at Prep; and Edward, third grade at First Presbyterian Day School.
“This is home for us,” Coco said. “It was a very natural move back for us.”
While practicing law, he continued to stay connected to Prep by being on the Alumni Council and Board of Trustees.
“The tenets of our mission statement are excellence in academics, athletics, and the arts,” Coco said. “In conjunction with this, we strive to instill in our students biblical values and inspire them to live lives of distinction in service to society.”
“What we mean by excellence at Prep is not perfection,” Coco added. “We want our students to try new things, and they may not always be successful first. However, experiencing these soft failures informs them and makes them better, leading them to excellence. Excellence doesn’t always mean the same thing for every student.”
He said that philosophy applies not only to academics, but also to athletics and the arts as well.
“We want our students to be well-rounded,” he said. “I encourage the students to get out of their comfort zones. We offer a lot of opportunities to do different things.”
He speaks from experience. During his years at Prep, he played on the football team but also made time to sing in the choir as well.
While he says he may not have been the best singer, he learned so much from the experience by trying something new.
Coco said one of Prep’s flagship programs is its Global Leadership Institute, which begins in the sixth grade and continues through the senior year.
“Our students assume leadership positions as part of this program,” Coco said. “It is scaled accordingly for each grade and gives them age appropriate projects.”
Students also get involved by doing Make a Difference projects in the community for which they are responsible for creating, organizing and carrying through. There are approximately 50 Make a Difference projects throughout the year.
Another program Coco is excited about is the school’s XR lab, which is equipped with 25 virtual reality stations.
“We have classes around the XR lab where the students are actually building VR experiences or learning how to code,” Coco said.
“We’re finding in the educational landscape that there are more and more virtual reality experiences that can be used in our classrooms,” he said.
The experiences compliment the lessons teachers are already teaching in their classrooms. For instance, biology classes can use VR headsets to walk through the heart and lungs to get a better understanding of how they work.
Coco said they are working to find ways to incorporate this new technology as the educational landscape is changing.