January 2021 Winner - Carolyn Lewis:(T J Harris Elementary)


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Meridian Star Article

Growing up with an aunt with special needs, Carolyn Lewis knew she wanted to help others when she became an adult.

"She inspired me to go to school," Lewis recalled. "To learn and help children succeed, regardless of what their capabilities were."

Lewis' compassion was recognized when she was named the Golden Apple Teacher for January during a ceremony at T.J. Harris Lower Elementary on Jan. 14.

The Army veteran has been teaching for 30 years, serving students in the Lauderdale County, Kemper County and Meridian Public School districts, as well as overseas in Japan.

Lewis, who is currently an exceptional education teacher at T.J. Harris, said her favorite thing about teaching is helping students realize their potential.

"My joy comes from working with my special education students," she said. "It gives me the joy to see a student learn something they didn’t know...I love interacting with my students every day."

"I was overwhelmed, surprised and blessed," she said after receiving the Golden Apple Award. "It's just amazing to me that anyone would think enough of what I do everyday to acknowledge it."

In a nomination letter, a former student credited Lewis for their academic success.

"I've had many amazing teachers, but this teacher is by far the best," the student wrote. "She has great leadership skills...and is also the only teacher that understands the way I learn."

Lewis teaches a lesson during class at T.J. Harris Lower Elementary School.

Lewis said her best moments as a teacher aren't always in the classroom.

"It’s when a student comes back and says, 'Mrs. Lewis, do you remember me?'," she said. "The main thing I remember about you is you helping somebody."

Lewis said special education teachers are unsung heroes, because sometimes they aren't recognized for their hard work.

"I'm thankful someone thought about the special education teachers," she said.