Teacher Bio - Matthew Lewis is the recipient of the Educating Excellence Award for December 2013. Lewis, who teaches Chemistry, Physics and Robotics at Spring Hill High School in Spring Hill, Kansas, was nominated by colleague Clay Frigon and community member Chantel Volkman.
Lewis has played an important role in developing STEM classes for Spring Hill. Under his leadership, a group of students attended their first STEM competition this year. Over the summer, he participated in a robotics conference in Denver to enhance his skills, and developed his own curriculum for a robotics course. Because this was a new class, he reached out to area robotics instructors to ensure he was implementing best practices for the Spring Hill program.
According to Frigon, Lewis embraces creative teaching styles, which in turn fosters engagement and enthusiasm in his students. "Mr. Lewis' work ethic alone speaks volumes to the type of person he is," says Frigon. "He displays a desire to excel in all he does, and inspires and impacts his students daily through his energetic and imaginative teaching style. He brings to life abstract ideas and allows students to visualize these ideas in real-life ways."
In addition to his regular teaching responsibilities, Lewis gives his time after school to work with high performance students who perform specialized experiments. "Due to large class sizes, these types of activities must be completed during non-school hours," explains Volkman. "Because AP classes are not available at Spring Hill, this is a unique opportunity for students requiring additional challenges throughout the school year. These experiments would not normally be available to them without Mr. Lewis' support."
Lewis not only teaches his classes with enthusiasm and heart, but also supports his students in other important ways outside the classroom. "He encourages students to think outside the box and actively engages them one-on-one," says Volkman. "In addition, Mr. Lewis attends many Spring Hill High School activities. This type of support is not measurable, but is recognized by his students."
Adds Frigon: "As a high school instructional coach, I encounter many different types of teachers; however, few meet the standards that Mr. Lewis has set as a teacher."
Jordan Martin, a student at Spring Hill High School, says Lewis opens up a new world of learning for his students every day. "Mr. Lewis loves what he teaches," says Martin. "He is constantly thinking of new demonstrations and experiments for his students. Without him, I wouldn't have decided to pursue engineering, or even have an interest in science."