Testimonials » Jessye Lewis

Jessye Lewis

Physical Education Teacher

Hiawatha College Prep-Kingfield

What are the set of experiences that brought you to teaching?
I graduated from the University of Minnesota with degrees in Sociology, Youth Studies, and African American Studies knowing I wanted to work with youth in my community. I started coaching and working with kids immediately after college through Minneapolis Parks and Rec. I spent over ten years in a recreational setting before pursuing a career in education.

My first role was as a behavior specialist at an after-school program in South Minneapolis. During that time I realized the impact I could have within the Education System. As my passion for change increased, I applied at Hiawatha Academies for a Para-Educator position.

I began my Hiawatha Academies journey as a para at Hiawatha Leadership Academy-Northrop. My first day I knew I found a new pathway. As a child I went to Northrop from kindergarten to third grade and was very excited to work at my childhood elementary school. At that point, I committed myself to be a passionate and caring role model for our students across the Hiawatha Academies network.

After spending three wonderful years as a para at HLA-Northrop, I was offered a new role as a Physical Education teacher at Hiawatha College Prep-Kingfield. I was ecstatic about the opportunity. I began teaching the summer of 2018 and have loved every second, and continue to enjoy working with our Hiawatha Academies’ families.

I have lived in the Kingfield neighborhood for the past ten years and look forward to continuing teaching at HCP-Kingfield.

What do you love most about teaching?
What I love most about teaching is the impact we have as teachers on our students and our communities. I grew up in South Minneapolis and deeply care about the future of our children and community. Watching our scholars pursue their dreams brings me joy and happiness. Being a part of their development drives me to be better every day.

Which Hiawatha Academies core value best represents who you are as a leader?
The core value that best represents me as a person would be, “We choose optimism.” This resonates with me because I know the obstacles and challenges we face in our communities and without hope and without optimism it’s harder for students to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

How does your classroom reflect you, as a person?
The expectations I set in my classroom are an exact reflection of me as a person/parent/coach. I expect kids to work hard, try new things, push themselves, and never settle for average. My goal is to build our scholars’ confidence and help prepare them for what’s to come in the real world. I treat our students with the same care and support I treat my son.