Hundreds Pay Tribute to Dr. Lewis at Retirement Celebration
Board members Kenny Fernandez and Jack Bailey; Nelda Sullivan; Assistant Board Secretary; Dr. Kirk Lewis; Dr. DeeAnn Powell, Acting Superintendent; Vickie Morgan, Board Vice President and Marshall Kendrick, Board Secretary, gather to honor Dr. Lewis at his retirement celebration.
Dr. Kirk Lewis enjoys a video presentation at his retirement celebration with his grandson, Eli Lewis.
Hundreds of friends and colleagues -- many representing relationships formed three decades ago -- paid tribute to outgoing Pasadena ISD Superintendent Dr. Kirk Lewis on Tuesday at a festive retirement party on the district campus that bears his name.
Speaking at the conclusion of the event, Dr. Lewis fought back tears as he thanked those in attendance at the Lewis Career and Technical High School for their support and their commitment to changing the lives of students.
“Education is about change,” he said. “We set about in our careers to change lives. Sometimes the kids who come to us don’t have as large a dream about their lives as they could. Our goal has always been to take them from dependence to independence and encourage them to be who we know they can be.”
He applauded district employees for being agents of “positive” change.
“You do the job so incredibly well,” he said. “You embrace the possibility that our kids can do anything. Every day that you come to work, you get the opportunity to change their destiny. I will be forever grateful for that.”
Dr. DeeAnn Powell, who will assume the duties of superintendent on Feb. 1, said she hoped the celebration of Dr. Lewis’s career would stand as “a reflection” of his devotion to the district.
“What a great opportunity we have to come together and honor a man that has given so much of himself to make not only Pasadena ISD and the community a better place, but the world,” Dr. Powell said. “We hope that this evening is a reflection of how much you have shown us appreciation over the years.”
Dr. Lewis joined the district in 1986 as an administrative assistant to the superintendent. He later served as executive director of communications and community relations before being promoted to deputy superintendent for administration, public relations and governmental affairs.
In 2006, he was named superintendent of schools.
“I wasn’t on the board when Dr. Lewis was appointed, but I’m so thankful for the opportunity I’ve had to work with him for the past seven years,” said Mariselle Quijano, president of the Pasadena ISD Board of Trustees.
“Dr. Lewis has been an inspiration to the board, administration, staff and students at Pasadena ISD. Whether he was on the mountain top celebrating the highest achievements of our students or working in the trenches making hard decisions, he always remained ethical and Godly.”
As superintendent, Dr. Lewis guided the district to major accomplishments and improvements in many areas. The district has celebrated increased graduation rates, reduced dropout rates and increased numbers of students taking and passing AP exams and dual credit courses during his tenure.
CTHS opened two years ago, the result of a success bond initiative spearheaded by Dr. Lewis.
At a reception preceding the ceremony, Dr. Lewis and wife Robin greeted guests in a receiving line for over an hour. The formal tribute began with a performance by a combined show choir from all five high schools directed by Brenda Varvoutis of South Houston High and accompanied on piano by Roger Woest of Memorial High.
Several gifts were presented to Dr. Lewis, including a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol (presented by representatives from U.S. Rep. Brian Babin’s office); a quilt representing campuses and various administrative departments; an eternal flame sculpture; an author’s gift basket; and an inaugural letterman’s jacket from Lewis CTHS.
A check was presented to Dr. Lewis for $2,000 on behalf of district staff members for a Dr. Kirk Lewis CTHS scholarship. The scholarship will provide two Pasadena seniors $1,000 each for the 2015-16 and the 2016-17 school years.
“Every student I have come across in my career has been so precious, so full of hope and joy,” Dr. Lewis said.
“They have changed me. Every one of you who I have worked with, you have changed me. I’m amazed at what you do. It has been an amazing and joyous 30 years here at Pasadena ISD, tough at times, but so gratifying. Thank you for making my life special and thank you for changing me into who I am today.”
A quilt representing each of the Pasadena ISD schools, programs and departments was presented to former superintendent of schools, Dr. Kirk Lewis, at his retirement celebration last night. From left to right: John Piscacek, Associate Superintendent of Business and Finance; Robin Lewis and Dr. Kirk Lewis.
Dr. Lewis is presented a check for a $2,000 scholarship in his name by (from left to right) Steve Fleming, Principal of Lewis CTHS and Dr. Troy McCarley, Associate Superintendent of Campus Development.