Brother Lawrence Donald Goyette, FSC
“We transform urban kids at risk into gentlemen who are proud of their school and who want to be successful and productive members of society.”

Lawrence Donald Goyette was born in Providence, Rhode Island on August 12, 1949 to Raoul R. Goyette and Cecile V. Goyette. His parents later gave birth to two more children, his brother Donald and his sister Janet. The family of five lived in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. His father was the owner of a foundry and his mother was a homemaker. Lawrence attended Saint Raphael’s Academy, a school founded by the Lasallian Brothers, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. After graduating from high school in 1967, he joined the Brothers of the Christian Schools. A religious Brother is a “lay Christian who commits himself to Christ and the Christian community by vows of poverty, chastity and obedience.” 2

Brother Lawrence “began his teaching career in 1972 at the Cranston-Johnston Catholic Regional School in Cranston, Rhode Island.” 3 He spent a total of 12 years teaching before he was elected the vice principle of the St. Gabriel School. In 1985, Brother Lawrence began devoting his life to the Genesis Program in Brooklyn, New York. Genesis is a middle school program “dedicated to providing an engaging and challenging” 5environment for at risk students who are academically gifted.

Brother Lawrence is best recognized for founding the San Miguel School. The San Miguel School was established in Providence, Rhode Island in 1993. Brother Lawrence “started an inner-city educational model that has led to a national network of more than a dozen San Miguel schools.” 3 For the first eleven years of the school’s existence, he served as the President, and in 2005, he became, and has since remained, the executive director. Over the last few decades, Brother Lawrence has been “honored numerous times for his service in education”, 3 receiving awards such as the Distinguished Teacher Award and the De La Salle Award for School Leadership.

History of San Miguel:
In 1988, Brother Lawrence found himself settled in the Olneyville section of Providence, Rhode Island. 4 He was “living with other brothers in a house they had bought and named the Miguel House.” 4However, none of the Brothers were serving in the local community, especially in the area of academia. Brother Lawrence witnessed “kids roaming around at all hours, and he heard stories of how they were going nowhere in school.” 4 He soon envisioned a school that could accommodate the special needs of the inner city, at risk boys. Brother Lawrence brought his plan to the attention of the Dioceses, and then began searching for a space for the school. He contacted the “head of a small school operated by a Lutheran church. With their numbers dwindling in enrollment, the school was being phased out after 35 years.” 4 The church more than generously agreed to help Brother Lawrence financially, by donating the space, rent free for two years. In 1993, the San Miguel School opened its doors “to 14 fifth and sixth graders.” 4 The school’s mission was, and still remains, “to work with kids from low-income families, and to accept students from challenging home situations, rather than ‘safe’ candidates.” Today, “nine San Miguel schools are up and running, with more on the way.” 4The Providence school now serves about one hundred boys between fifth and eighth grade! 4

Brother Lawrence Goyette is a leader because of his engagement to the practice of community. A community is “a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society.” 6 In 1988, Brother Lawrence encountered a group of individuals who were fighting for their children’s academic rights. He did not know these people, yet he still had the courage to approach them and to offer a helping hand.

Brother Lawrence gathered the Olyneyville community and listened to their concerns about the future of the neighborhood’s children. His goal was to establish a school for the bright and youthful minds that lived within the neighborhood. This school would not only take the youth off the streets, but would also transform them into active members of society. He remained open and honest throughout the process, admitting that the lengthy journey was going to be difficult. However, he kept them informed, and as a result they supported him until the school was established. [1]

The establishment of the San Miguel School created a community or brotherhood for those who attended. This new community, “emphasized citizenship, service, and personal responsibility in a caring learning environment where academics are rigorous, expectations are high, and individual talents are nurtured.” 7 In working with the students, Brother Lawrence helped each young man discover his future goals and aspirations.Through teaching, mentoring and advocating, Brother Lawrence has truly sparked a sense of community among the Olneyville section of Providence.

Choice-worthy Good:
The choice-worthy good that Brother Lawrence exhibits is discipline. An individual who is disciplined “accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another as a convinced adherent of an individual.” 8 When Brother Lawrence joined the Lasallian Brothers of Christian Schools, he accepted a disciplined life of poverty, chastity and obedience. He also agreed to assist the church in spreading love, charity and knowledge. In vowing to pursue a career in education, he promised to pay the same level of discipline forward.

The San Miguel School was established to provide at risk students with a stable learning environment. Those who apply and are admitted come from “chaotic homes or neighborhoods where it is difficult to succeed academically.” 7 Many of these students come to San Miguel in search of a more “structured and supportive educational environment.” 7 The school day is scheduled from 8:00 until 3:15, with a strict set of rules that the students must follow. This type of environment prepares the young men for life outside of their small urban community.

Each day, the students expand both their academic knowledge and further crucial life skills. They are taught the basics, such as how to give a proper handshake and the importance of eye contact during a conversation. The students who abide by the rules strive to be named a Miguel Man. A Miguel man is “characterized by his behavior and attitude. He is a gentleman who greets visitors with a warm handshake and holds doors open for his fellow students. He is courteous, helpful, and respectful of others. He works with counselors and teachers to overcome any lingering street values, and he works to reshape himself into a serious student and thoughtful young man with ethical principles that will guide him throughout his life.” 7

Brother Lawrence is teaching these young men how to be productive members of society. He is giving them the tools necessary to succeed in the harsh world that lies before them. He learned the importance of discipline though his good works in the church and he continues to live up to those expectations today.


Personal Challenges:
Brother Lawrence Goyette has been transforming the lives of children for the last forty years. However, he says “it took him a few years to grow as a teacher and to get to the point where he became passionate about the profession.” [1] He joined the Lasallian Brothers as a young man, fresh out of high school because “the transition felt natural and he was attracted to their way of life.” [1] As a Lasallian Brother, he was required to pursue a career in the education field. While he was interested in education, he was challenged by the lack of experience he had in such a setting. His struggles became apparent as he found it difficult to master a teaching style. Many of the students approached him with harsh resistance, not wanting to accept his inexperience. It took him many years to discover which grade level and subject fit him and his interests. [1]

The uncomfortable feeling, which came along with his inexperience, instilled a drive within Brother Lawrence to master the art of teaching. He took it upon himself to learn from his fellow Brothers. As a mentee, he relied heavily upon their advice and instruction. He also took the time to observe each one of their teaching styles, which in turn helped him to form his own unique flare. As a teacher in the Providence Diocese, he had the flexibly of working with students of all ages. He taught everyone, from children in kindergarten to the young adults in high school. In time, he discovered his love for educating the middle school population. [1] He grew to favor this age group, because he found that they could be easily shaped into model citizens. In time, he narrowed his focus down to working with middle school boys from urban areas. He knew from living within an urban setting, that receiving a structured education was vital to their success. He wanted to shape them into believing that all of their goals and dreams were within reach. [1]

In pursuing the education of at risk youth, he encountered another challenge; these middle school boys were not being provided with an adequate education. The schools that they were attending were not up to the same standards as those in the suburbs. With fewer qualified teachers and minimal access to resources, the students were suffering. There was a sense of inequality amongst the students in Rhode Island. Inequality is the unfair distribution of opportunities or goods that exist between equals. Brother Lawrence took notice of this issue and stepped into action. He rallied the neighborhood and worked with his Diocese to open an educational institution that met the specific needs of these boys. However, he still battles inequality on a daily basis. There are more students in need than he can accommodate, which proves that today’s education system remains unbalanced. He is in a constant battle against those who believe that his students are not worthy of the same opportunities as everyone else. Brother Lawrence continues to prove that his education model is effective and that his students are kind, intellectual beings that deserve respect!


Standard of Excellence:
Throughout his career, Brother Lawrence has exhibited a noteworthy level of determination. When he was first made aware of the educational disparities in Providence, he felt personally obligated to address them and was driven to do so. While he did not find it difficult to create the urban education model on paper, it did require an immense amount of his will power to bring the project to life. Determination is the “fixed intention to achieve a desired end.” [9] Brother Lawrence remained firm in his beliefs and did not allow anything to prevent him from opening San Miguel, which was for the good of the urban community. His strength and perseverance led to the creation of “a lone school in one of Providence's poorest neighborhoods” which” grew into the national Miguel Schools Network, a wave of fifteen new schools established by the De La Salle Christian Brothers to specifically address the needs of students from economically-poor communities.” 7

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Brother Lawrence lives and breathes the virtue of loving kindness. He truly “loves others regardless of who they are and he treats them well.” 10 Brother Lawrence exemplifies the true meaning of loving kindness through his interactions with the students at San Miguel; he treats each and every student as if they were his sons. These children come from disadvantaged and broken homes, yet he treats each one of them equally. The relationships that he establishes are built on love, respect and trust. [1]

Work Cited:
"A Moment with Brother Lawrence Goyette." Personal interview. Mar. 2013.

"Vocation in the Catholic Church." A Guide to Religious Ministries for Catholic Men and Women. The Catholic News Publishing Company, n.d. Web. Mar. 2013.

"AFGS French Canadian Hall of Fame." American-French Genealogical Society. American-French Genealogical Society, n.d. Web. Apr. 2013.

Anderson, George M. "Starting the First San Miguel Middle School." America the National Catholic Review. America Press Inc, Apr. 2013. Web.

"Genesis Grades 6-8." Xaverian. Xaverian Brothers, Mar. 2013. Web.

"Community." Def. 2. Merriam-Webster. N.d. Print.

"About Us." The San Miguel School of Providence. N.p., n.d. Web. Mar.-Apr. 2013.

"Discipline." Def. 1. Merriam-Webster. N.d. Print.

"Determination." Def. 3b. Merriam-Webster. N.d. Print.

"Practices, Virtues, Leadership, & the Common Good." Leadership Wiki. N.p., n.d. Web. Mar. 2013.

Foot Notes:
1. ^ Interview with Brother Lawrence Goyette
2. ^ Vocation in the Catholic Church
3. ^ AFGS
4. ^ Anderson, George
5. ^ Genesis
6. ^ Community
7. ^ About Us
8. ^ Discipline
9. ^ Determination
10. ^ Practices & Virtues

By: Tyler Beauchamp