Lewis will stay on as varsity boys tennis coach for one more season

Photo Credit: VERN UYETAKE - Ward Lewis was selected as West Linn's teacher of the year and addresses students during graduation.After nearly four decades of teaching, 33 at West Linn High School, respected English teacher Ward Lewis retired at the end of the 2014 school year.

Lewis has also been the boys tennis coach at the high school for 31 years and will stay on at that position for one more season next spring.

Lewis came to West Linn after six years in Minnesota and has been a valued member of the English department ever since.

He always had a passion for the students who he referred to as “reluctant learners.”

“The greatest compliment I received from students was when they would say 'I never liked English, but you made it interesting,'” Lewis said.

Lewis helmed the Honors English class for juniors during much of the 1980s and 90s and was known for assigning projects that encouraged students to be creative.

“I always like to read and I liked to perform and find ways to get kids excited,” Lewis said.

In his 39 years of teaching, Lewis has witnessed plenty of changes in education and he felt like it was finally a good time to step away.

“More and more students are becoming visual learners and there is so much young talent in our department. With the way the technology is changing, I looked at some of the younger teachers and saw that they were doing a better job than I was. I work with great people. My colleagues have always been amazingly talented and committed,” Lewis said.

He is also encouraged about where the English curriculum is headed.

“Great things are happening. The literature is becoming more and more multicultural,” Lewis said.

This year, Lewis was selected as the school's Teacher of the Year and spoke at the graduation ceremony in June.

But Lewis won't be stepping away from West Linn entirely quite yet. Last spring's tennis team had a strong junior class which will return as seniors next year and Lewis wanted to coach one last season.

A strong baseball player in high school, Lewis found tennis in college and has been a fixture in the tennis community in Oregon for three decades.

Lewis' teams won state championships in 2003 and 2004 with Steve Robertson winning the individual singles title in 2004 and the doubles team of Rian and Austin Rifkin winning back-to-back doubles titles in 2003 and 2004.

He also had the opportunity to coach both of his sons, Michael and Will, which he says was one of his career highlights.

In retirement, Lewis will spend time with family and recently became a grandfather. He also has a passion for helping to combat the food insecurity crisis in Oregon.

“It's a big problem in the metro area. Good nutrition is extremely important in development and for students to succeed academically,” Lewis said.

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