Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Lewis named Superintendent of the Year

School district leader respected throughout Idaho

Express Staff Writer

Blake Walsh, left, Blaine County School District's director of student services, offers his congratulations to Blaine County School District Superintendent Jim Lewis for being named Superintendent of the Year by the Idaho School Superintendents' Association. Photo by Willy Cook

"To build trust, leaders must exemplify competence, connection and character. Leaders touch a heart before they ask for a hand," Blaine County School District Assistant Superintendent Mary Gervase wrote in praise of her boss, Superintendent Jim Lewis.

Lewis did not ask for a hand, but recently colleagues and other extended their hands in appreciation for his efforts in education.

As a leader in education and the community, Lewis recently received the "Superintendent of the Year Award" through the Idaho School Superintendents' Association. His efforts in education and in the community garnered Lewis the statewide honor.

"I was really flattered. I simply wasn't expecting it, but it's really important that this is an award for a whole team. It was everyone working on our strategic plan that brought my name to the attention of the state," Lewis said.

Despite his modesty, those who work closely with Lewis agree he deserves the recognition. Gervase nominated Lewis for the award, which was accompanied by three letters of support from members of the community.

Lewis' colleagues echo sentiments similar to those expressed in the nomination.

"Being a young administrator, Jim serves as a true role model. I admire all he does and his vision for the district. The way he has moved the district into a collaborative learning community is outstanding," remarked Tom Bailey, principal of Hailey Elementary.

Lewis explained that his effort to create the outstanding learning community aligns with the district's mission. The mission sets out "To be a world-class, student focused community of teaching and learning."

Asked how he has created a world-class district, Lewis responded, "It's all about kids. They have to be the focus of everything. In every decision we make, we ask ourselves 'Is this the best thing for the kids?'"

What Lewis has accomplished for children in the Wood River Valley is in the very least, impressive.

According to Gervase, Lewis has guided the district to complete 95 percent of its strategic plan. He embarked on a 10-year, $40 million construction plan. He implemented an extensive list of educational initiatives, including a staff evaluation program, high school academies, daycare and dual immersion programs. He also provided the vision for the Community Campus in Hailey.

"I take a team oriented approach. Everything is accomplished by teams of people," he explained.

Lewis leads educational teams within the county and the state.

"In Idaho the state superintendents look to him for direction," Bailey said. Bailey also pointed to legislators who look to Lewis for advice.

In addition to local and state leadership, Lewis will soon take his guidance to the national level. He was recently appointed to be the Northwest representative for the Regional Advisory Committee for the Department of Education.

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