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Final Alabama Update
Final Alabama Update
April 19, 2024

Laura Shain’s Retirement

Laura Shains Retirement

Laura Shain first came to Lagunitas as the 8th principal in 10 years. Over the thirteen years she has been here, she has worked hard to push Lagunitas to be the best school it can be. Laura has created lots of change within our school, from changing the dress code to helping individual kids. She expresses much love for the community we have built, and the people within it. Since Laura started at Lagunitas she has been a pillar in our community. After her years of leading Lagunitas, Laura is retiring at the end of the 2024 school year. Lagunitas would not be where it is today without her. 


When Laura first heard about Lagunitas she instantly loved it. “It’s kids and staff, and being outdoors.” When asked what her favorite part about working at Lagunitas was, Laura immediately goes to the people. Laura admires the strong community we have at Lagunitas, and enjoys getting to work with the staff and children. As a principal, Laura will often have to help kids with discipline. “In this office I mostly see kids that are in trouble, and I actually love helping kids with discipline and helping them figure out that point of where things went wrong.” She explains how she really likes to help kids, of all ages, learn and grow from their mistakes. 


Before Laura worked at Lagunitas, she was a teacher for 17 years. She taught 2nd-5th grade and 6th grade Social Studies and Language Arts. Laura then worked at a large middle school for 1 year, before transferring to a school that was  “similar to Lagunitas in many ways”. Laura was compelled to teach at Lagunitas because of the progressive aspects and community of the school. She loved that Lagunitas had maintained aspects developed in the 70’s when education had shifted. “When I saw that Lagunitas had a Waldorf, a Montessori, an Open Classroom, they had board members that had been on for decades, it really appealed for me to come here.”  Laura found it very compelling that Lagunitas had multiple options for schooling that could appeal to many different people. She also thought the freedom the school gave to the kids to learn, and grow, was very progressive.   


Since Lagunitas is an alternative program, it has many differences from traditional schools. One of the differences Laura noticed was “seeing kids be outside without being supervised” Laura enjoys the sense of freedom that the kids develop at a young age. She enjoyed how independent the students were and the part that they played in their education. Lagunitas is obviously very different from other schools. Laura explains how at the other school she had worked at, the kids felt so controlled from a young age that when they got to middle school they would start to rebel more. Since Lagunitas let kids have more control of themselves, she would notice that once they got to middle school they would be wanting more structure and responsibility. Laura loved these aspects of the school and wanted to continue to keep the kids feeling in control and safe. 


 Laura described to us that when she was teaching she would constantly shift jobs and grade levels to keep her self interested. After coming to Lagunitas she has noticed  “It’s almost like I’ve worked at five different schools” She goes on to say it feels like it changes “every couple of years, it’s almost like a different school.” Looking back, Laura thinks the most significant change has been the elementary schools merging. She remembers how strong the Open Classroom and Montessori school identities were compared to now, and feels this year she has seen “ a slow coming together of the programs.” Despite the obvious changes in the school, Laura tells us how she believes “email has really changed the way we communicate” and the school. When Laura first started as principal she would have to mark down in a notebook every time someone called the school. With the new introduction of the internet and email she explains how, “no one calls anymore” and how she has had the same notebook for almost three years, when originally she would have piles. 


When we asked Laura to tell us something she had done for the school that she was proud of, she describes that when she first got to the school, there was a dress code that was “really old fashioned and was really anti female, really anti-body”. To win people over and explain why the dress code was old fashioned, Laura showed how a younger girl and older girl could both wear shorts and a tank top and yet only the older girl would be dress coded. “When you really look at that, interpret that, you realize that what you’re really shaming is the girls developing body. “Like it’s a fine body when it’s nine, and then all of a sudden it’s something you need to be disciplined about.” Laura is also proud that the middle school has been able to get funding for art, language, and the library. Laura has done many things to improve and make our school a better place.    


Laura hopes that Lagunitas “keeps growing and changing with the times.“ As we face modern technology problems, such as AI Laura hopes that Lagunitas students can understand how to use Artificial Intelligence in a positive and healthy way. She also hopes that students will be able to tell real from fake on social media and the internet, and will be able to make smart decisions. Laura also hopes that Lagunitas maintains the balance between academic skills and life skills. She wants the students to be able to graduate feeling confident in voting and everyday life. Laura has been an amazing principal and made a huge impact on our school. Without Laura taking charge to change the dress code, merge the schools, and keep Lagunitas connected with the times, our school could look a lot different. We hope we can keep Lagunitas a safe place, and stay changing with the times.      


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About the Contributor
Morgan Olsen
Morgan Olsen, Writer
Morgan Olsen was raised in Woodacre, she lives with her brother and parents. She enjoys listening to music and reading. She loves to write poetry as well as fictional stories.   
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    Yosha Taylor-BourgeaApr 3, 2024 at 12:28 pm

    I was a teacher at Lagunitas ten years ago, and it was wonderful to work with Laura. Her authenticity and compassion shine through in this article, as they do in real life. Kudos to Morgan for a well-written piece!