Former river guide keeps middle schoolers on course
Cedar Ridge Middle School's Athletic Director and Dean of Students Doug Lewis typically sees students for two very different reasons. Either they're doing well and are eligible for after-school sports teams or they're struggling to the point that they need some intervention.
As an athletic guy, Lewis appreciates the variety that keeps him on his toes, balancing his responsibilities as athletic director and dean of students.
But he does admittedly miss teaching in a classroom.
The administrative roles Lewis now holds are new this year. For seven years, he taught sixth grade, then math, and coached basketball and track at Boring Middle School.
"The change from working directly with kids to working individually or only seeing them in the halls has been difficult," Lewis said.
Before Lewis was directing students, he was guiding river rafting trips. He enjoyed the job and being outdoors, but "got tired of the vagabond lifestyle."
"I wanted to be part of a community," he added.
So, he packed up his rafting gear and his bachelor's degree in history from Willamette University and enrolled at the University of Portland to receive a master's degree in teaching.
"I always felt like I was comfortable with kids and I wanted to try to be a positive influence on our future," Lewis explained. "Nowhere else can you have this kind of impact on our future — on our kids."
In the 11 years Lewis has been working in education, he has found "watching kids finally be able to grasp concepts and seeing their confidence grow" to be the most rewarding aspect of his job.
He's also experienced first-hand the challenges that come with the tie between state funding and schools.
Lewis taught at Centennial High School in his hometown of Gresham prior to coming to the Oregon Trail District. He was layed off when the economy began its downward spiral in 2008.
Now, through his new role as dean of students, Lewis described himself as a kind of "support" for the principal, addressing issues students may have that could affect their education or that of others.
"We're also trying to balance the academic push and high expectations we have with realizing they're going through a lot of things in life," he added. "If they had a terrible morning or weekend at home, they're bringing a lot of that with them."
"They make classic mistakes we all made," he noted. "Their decision-making skills aren't fully developed. It's important to listen to their side of things. Everyone is carrying a burden we might not know anything about."
Lewis said he feels well-equipped to deal with these daily challenges as an employee of the Oregon Trail School District. He has found that community he was looking for.
"I feel like there's a real openness and trust between the teachers and the district, which is really empowering," Lewis noted.
When the 43-year-old isn't working with kids in school, he's spending time rafting, camping and playing basketball with his two children and large extended family.
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