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Friday, March 23, 2018

High School Administrator Proves It’s Never Too Late to Start a Career

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At an age when some people have graduated college and started their first “real world” job, Melanie Lewis was still searching for her purpose.

The Lake Ridge High School associate principal spent most of her 20s in Germany as a military wife. She then began working as an elementary school custodian, which sparked her passion for kids.

“Getting to know them—I was like, ‘Well, I really like this,” she said with a smile.

Lewis returned to the United States and enrolled into The University of South Alabama at the age of 28. However, she still did not know exactly what career path to choose.

She started volunteering as a Sunday school teacher, and an impromptu conversation with one of the children became her epiphany.

“He said, ‘I wish I had a teacher like you,’” Lewis recalled. “And I said, ‘Why? You like the way I teach?’ And he said, ‘No, it’s that you just care about us.’”

Lewis graduated college with a double major in Spanish and English and earned a master’s degree in secondary Spanish. She became a teacher and thought she had reached her goal.

Lewis has always taught at the high school level.
Since she always volunteered to head committees and be a club sponsor, her principal at the time saw leadership skills within her and asked whether she would consider being an administrator.

“I was like, ‘No! I love my kids.’ And he said, ‘Right now, you’re only affecting 170 children who are assigned to your class. Imagine having 800 kids,’ which were how many kids we had in the school,” Lewis explained.

Lewis agreed with the idea of making a larger impact. She went back to school to earn a master’s in educational leadership and an education specialist degree (Ed.S).

She has held positions as a Title I facilitator, athletic coordinator, freshman academy dean, night school principal and assistant principal.

The educator moved to Texas in 2015 and is in her first year as a Mansfield ISD employee. She hopes that her story will give students and parents the courage to keep chasing their dreams when life gets tough.

“It doesn’t matter how late that you catch on. It took me a while. I mean I was a college student, and I was a mom,” she said. “Everything has just worked out. And I’m still as passionate now about education, about what I do, as the first day when I got here.”