Founders Rev. Bill and Mrs. Audrey Lawson created the vision for The Lawson Academy: single-gender middle school education to create successful young men and women.

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men”

– Rev Bill Lawson, Founder

The Lawson Academy is an open-enrollment public institution (no tuition) with established academic requirements and requisite parental commitment. We welcome any students who willingly accept the challenge to become college ready and to demonstrate personal integrity and a responsibility.

Each scholar who attends The Lawson Academy is recognized as an individual who has unique abilities, needs, and interests. For that reason, we foster a student-centered learning environment that models high expectations for academic achievement and that provides an atmosphere of mutual respect for students, staff, family, and community members.

The Lawson Academy was conceived by Mrs. Audrey Lawson and established to meet the critical academic and social development needs of inner-city youth. Since opening its doors in the fall of 2002, WALIPP has attended to middle school males enrolled in grades 6-8, providing them an authentic, enriched learning community that believes all students can learn and that, given the right guidance and preparation, all students can become their best selves.

Early on in its development, The Lawson Academy purposefully implemented a single-gender strategy for education. Within our single-gender educational program, teachers, administrators, and other stakeholders can address students’ unique physical, social, and emotional needs, and provide them with a safe, secure, and nurturing environment that fosters their academic growth.

In 2011, the academy expanded its model to include a girls’ program. Female middle-school students had an opportunity to benefit from an equally rigorous academic experience as well as build meaningful relationships and reinforce invaluable character traits that continue to make The Lawson Academy program so successful.

Our Vision and Mission

The vision of The Lawson Academy is to create a student-centered, collaborative learning environment in which our scholars utilize innovative learning approaches and technology to become college-ready and to develop into civic-minded, contributing members of the global community.

Our mission is to provide a comprehensive education in single-gender environment based on four cornerstones:


Relevant curriculum


Rigorous instruction


Respect for self and others in the learning community


Reciprocity, or give and take, of ideas and talents

Our Board

The WALIPP Board of Directors oversees all operations of The Lawson Academy. Members of the WALIPP Board participate in the TEA-recommended Lone Star Governance model which emphasizes student performance. Board Chair Mary Ramos has been a leader in the community for years.

The Advisory Board provides The Lawson Academy with resources and support. Members of both boards serve as volunteers to fulfill the mission of the William A. Lawson Institute for Peace and Prosperity (WALIPP) and The Lawson Academy.

Board of Directors
  • Mary Ramos, Board Chair → Email
  • Chavon Carr → Email
  • Terence Frederick → Email
  • Eric Goodie Email
  • Brian Kennard → Email
  • Yolanda Smith → Email
  • Champ Warren Email
Advisory Board 
  • Paula S. Sutton, Board Chair
  • Chevazz G. Brown
  • Chris Brown
  • James Crownover
  • Jerome Gray
  • Judge Kenneth Hoyt
  • Jonathan R. Jackson
  • Frank Karkowsky
  • Melanie Lawson
  • Renee Logans
  • Willie Miles
  • David Regenbaum
  • Regina Rogers
  • Alan Rosen
  • Amb. Arthur Schechter
  • Sheila M. Turner
Financial Statements
Annual Budget

Meet our Leadership

Dr. Marthea Raney


Dr. Raney has more than 30 years of experience in education. She served as a Principal for Houston Independent School District prior to her retirement in 2014. Her doctorate in Educational Leadership caps off a learning career that includes an M.A. in Mid-Management Administration. Dr. Raney is a teacher leader who focused on instructional excellence among all faculty

Cheryl Lawson


Cheryl Lawson is the daughter of Founders Rev. Bill and Audrey Lawson. After writing the Academy charter and expanding the Academy to serve both girls and boys, she became the district Superintendent in 2011. Ms. Lawson is a graduate of the Rice University Executive MBA program. Her commitment to her parents’ legacy drives her – and the entire Academy team.  Ms. Lawson earns $84,568 annually.

The Lawson Academy

Where Dreams Come True