From being electrocuted in a condemned DC elementary school to working in China knowing only English, Dr. Lewis has had her fair share of obstacles. Nevertheless, she continues to bring passion and care into the educational workforce.
Dr. Brenda Lewis grew up in rural Minnesota, in a town with a population equal to the number of students at B-CC. She helped her parents with her younger, disabled brother. As a young child, she “saw his struggles and the way [her] parents navigated the school system… I just knew education was where [she] wanted to be.” By experiencing both the hardships and rewards firsthand, Dr. Lewis was sure that she wanted to pursue this career, so that she could help even more young people.
She began as a first grade teacher at a Catholic school in Minnesota. One day, after three years of working there, her principal, Sister Pat, walked into the classroom and announced, “I need to see you in my office.”
This took Dr. Lewis by surprise because it was not a normal thing for the principal to do. Lewis could not pay attention for the rest of her class period; her voice was higher, her cheeks flushed, she was stressed. Lewis was able to get a partner teacher to watch the class, so she could go down to Sister Pat’s room. Even looking back on it, Dr. Lewis’ voice became a bit shaky, demonstrating the nerve racking experience.
Luckily, it was not as scary as she had imagined. In fact, Sister Pat sat her down to let her know that she would be promoted to assistant principal. Even though Dr. Lewis “didn’t know [she] wanted to be an assistant principal,” Sister Pat assured her that, “now you do.” This seemingly insignificant step changed the rest of Lewis’ life, and she is eternally grateful for the opportunity.
Dr. Lewis soon moved from Minnesota to Washington, DC to be an administrator of a local elementary school, Murch Elementary. She described that a building, which housed the pre-kindergarten programs, was “condemned… [she] ended up one day getting electrocuted because there were wires underneath a rug.” Though she did encounter a few scares, Lewis enjoyed her experience at Murch and looked back at it with a warm heart. Now, Dr. Lewis laughed at the poor conditions she faced as an early educator and acknowledged that recently the school had been renovated.
Dr. Lewis compared what she saw in DC public schools with MCPS and noticed that there was a lower level of professional development in DCPS. She mentioned that while there are many resources in DCPS, Montgomery County really pushes for each teacher to be supported and gain new skills.
Directly before teaching here at B-CC, Dr. Lewis worked as an administrator in a Chinese international school. She moved her family to China after receiving a international school job offer. Upon arrival, “all [they] could say was ‘ni hao’ and that was because of the show Ni Hao Kai Lan.” This lack of communication did not stop Lewis from thriving at her international school. She was able to pick up conversational skills, which she sometimes uses in B-CC Chinese 1 classes, and interact with many of the English learning and speaking students and staff.
After applying into the system, MCPS reached out to Dr. Lewis with a school in mind- B-CC. Lewis interviewed and “fell in love with all the pieces of what Dr. Jones had shared and what [Dr. Lewis] found on the website. And once you’re here, you immediately feel part of a welcoming and open community.” She is still so excited to be here and create change on a bigger scale than just the classroom level. This was truly evident in the way Dr. Lewis’ eyes lit up while she was talking about her optimistic outlook on the school.
The feeling is clearly mutual, as the administration is very excited to work with her. Dr. Lewis oversees the English and World Language departments.Ms. Pomeroy, head of B-CC World Languages, kindly commented, “My experience working with Dr. Lewis so far has been extremely positive… she always has a smile on her face, she’s always willing to help, she’s very proactive about things.”
Student body president of the 10th grade, JD Gorman, remarked that, “Dr. Lewis is incredibly nice and has such a welcoming personality. I can’t wait to work closely with her; she really cares about the students.” Her smile and positive energy is the first thing many students and staff notice. Furthermore, Lewis is extremely genuine and does the most to ensure everyone will thrive at the school. After working at several schools, she has finally found a perfect fit for both her and the B-CC community.