By Meg Sinervo
Angela Lewis wasn’t expecting to hear her name called out during the announcement of the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award at Alice Lloyd College back in 1983. But her post-college dedication to helping others, both in her career and in her personal life, prove that she was the right choice for the award. Here, she reviews her life of service thus far, including her commitment to making sure that no child gets picked last for a team just because they haven’t yet learned how to play the game.
What do you remember most about receiving the Sullivan award?
Lewis: What I remember most about receiving the Sullivan Award was the description and community involvement the speaker was giving of the recipient when the presentation was being made. My friend was nudging me, saying, “That sounds like you!” But I had no idea that it was being presented to me. I believe I received the award due to my involvement in the community and for always taking the smallest apple in the pile, so to speak, so others could enjoy more of the fruit.
Tell us about your career and what you do now.
Lewis: My career has mostly been in teaching, and my certified field was Physical Education [P.E.]. I have taught and used my P. E. degree in two third-world countries: Tonga (1985) and Jamaica (1991-1996). I taught English as a second language and P. E. in Tonga. I introduced volleyball to our village school and community, and I helped coach their track and field teams.
In Jamaica, I taught kindergarten and basic school at SOS Children’s Village and taught and coached the older kids in mini-tennis, netball and soccer. Now, I teach high school special-needs students in a self-contained setting at a small-town school.
In addition to teaching life skills, job skills and community-based instruction, I also teach an Adapted P. E. class that my students love! I stopped coaching volleyball and soccer after about 10 years due to injuries. When I was in seventh grade, I knew that I wanted to go into physical education. I was always an athlete, but I had many friends who weren’t athletic at all. In P. E. class, I watched kids get chosen last because they didn’t already know how to play the game. I wanted to teach kids how to learn the skills needed to play a game, even if just in a recreational or family weekend-fun setting.
Are you involved with any community service or community outreach now?
Lewis: I am currently a Special Olympic committee member in our county as well as the Beta Club sponsor at our high school. We are involved in many community service projects, such as providing child care for parents of special needs kids during parent mentoring meetings; Relay for Life; Foster Child Christmas parties; Rivers Alive Community Clean-up; raising money for Cystic Fibrosis research; and Pennies for Patients.
The social issues that matter most to me are animal cruelty, homelessness and child abuse/neglect.
If pressed to give one piece of advice to younger people, what would you tell them? What have you learned as an adult that you wish you’d known earlier in life?
Lewis: Everyone has something to contribute in life. Find your passion and make a difference. As an adult, one thing I have learned—and wish I had known earlier in life—is to have confidence in myself.