Tess S. O'Keefe Lawrence, Ed.S., NBCT
Mrs. Tess O'Keefe Lawrence is a lifelong resident of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and has brought over 20 years of successful teaching experience to the Gulfport School District. Initially, she served in the position of assistant principal of Gulfport High School for five years. As the instructional leader and principal of Bayou View Elementary School, she strives to improve and to refine the curriculum and teaching practices to benefit the youth of the Gulfport School District. This year marks her 31st year in education and is her eighth year as instructional leader of BVE. She remains Gulfport Strong and is Viking Proud!
Mrs. Lawrence earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from The University of South Alabama in 1990 in English and Psychology and received her Master of Education degree in Educational Leadership from The University of Southern Mississippi in 1997. Mrs. Lawrence also earned her Specialist in Education degree in Educational Leadership in 2007 from The University of Southern Mississippi and has taken courses towards her Ph.D. in Educational Administration. In 1999, Mrs. Lawrence attained her National Board Certification in Early Adolescence/English Language Arts, a credential she renewed in 2009. She served as a National Board assessor and was the former Director of the Master Teacher Mentoring Project for the Gulf Coast Education Initiative Consortium. During that time, she mentored 82 National Board Teacher Candidates who successfully achieved certification. Mrs. Lawrence served on the Mississippi Principals' Advisory Council from 2017-2019. She is committed to the Gulfport School District's mission of "inspiring each student to become a problem solver, life-long learner, and productive member of society." Mrs. Lawrence successfully completed the NISL Executive Development Program in 2018 and is pursuing Distinguished Principal credentialing through NISL. In the 2019-2020 school year, Bayou View Elementary School was recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence during her leadership. She was selected as the Gulfport School District's Administrator of the Year in 2020, as well as selected as the Mississippi Association of Colleges and Teacher Education's (MACTE) award winner for Outstanding Administrator. She was nominated as one of Gulf Coast Woman's 100 Successful Women to Know in 2022 and in 2023.
Tess O'Keefe Lawrence is married to Coach Rick Lawrence who is also very active in the Gulfport School District. Mr. Lawrence is a retired Gunnery Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps and has dedicated much of his career to educating and training young Marines. They are the proud parents of a nine-year-old son who attends Bayou View Elementary School.