In 31 years of being in the classroom and influencing young people, 26 of those in Powell River, Lisa Lewis said there has never been a day that she has regretted becoming a teacher.
“No. Never. I love it,” said Lewis. “I could retire in a couple of years, but I’m going to stay as long as I like it. I love coming to work.”
Lewis is now teaching 11 or 12 students this year whose parents she also taught, either one or both, and she said she hopes to see one of her former student’s grandchild in kindergarten this September at Westview Elementary School where she teaches.
She is currently teaching grade five and six, which is her favourite year, before the “hormones start raging,” she said. In grade six, children still have respect, she added.
The word “respect” is what makes a good teacher, according to Lewis.
“I see a lack of respect in our society now compared to when I first started teaching,” she said. “I feel that if I can show the kids respect for who they are, then they’ll respect me and they’ll want to do their best.”
The respect comes in many forms, in the classroom, the hallways and on the playground. Lewis will do anything for her students and there are a number of occasions that she has shown that dedication.
Three years ago, Lewis said she was doing recess supervision of the students who used to play in an area between Westview school and Vancouver Island University.
“Out of the corner of my eye I saw two big dogs and started to walk over because I didn’t see their owners at all and they weren’t on a leash,” she said. “I thought, ‘Oh, this isn’t going to go well.’”
As she approached closer, Lewis said she could see children spreading out and screaming.
“Then one of the dogs went after a young boy and that’s when I just ran. I still to this day do not know how I got over the fence so fast, but I did,” she said. “I yelled and screamed and kicked at the dog. He had the boy by his leg and was pulling him away. I grabbed the boy and hauled him in. But as soon as I picked him up, the dog came at us. So I snuggled the boy in and we kind of baby-stepped over to the fence and I just kept kicking at the dog and once I got close enough, I threw the boy over the fence and then I jumped over.”
Sarah Hooff is a former student of Lewis' at what was then Oceanview Junior High School. Hooff said she remembers Lewis being a great teacher.
“Straightforward, yet warm and friendly,” said Hooff. “It was easy to feel comfortable around her.”
Lewis was especially comforting when Hooff became pregnant in grade 10.
“Once the word got out, she sought me out and made sure I was alright,” said Hooff. “I don’t think I was even in any of her classes at that time. There wasn’t any support for young mothers in those days. Lisa didn’t feel sorry for me or anything awkward like that, and I genuinely felt that she cared for me. I will always love her for that.”
Lewis is known for having high expectations of her students. She said she’s always had a reputation for lots of homework and assignments.
“I believe the kids thrive on that routine, structure and discipline,” she said. “I’m old-school because I’ve been doing this a long time. The kids respect that.”