Prince George’s County’s 2013 Teacher of the Year almost took a different career route, but couldn’t turn away from the calling he felt to become a teacher.
“My mother and my aunt were both in education, and they saw a lot of the struggles teachers face, so they made a suggestion that I pursue a different career path, so I majored in journalism,” said Albert Lewis, 30, a language arts teacher at Walker Mill Middle School in Capitol Heights.
Lewis was selected from a field of 39 nominees countywide to be named Teacher of the Year on May 2.
“Then in 2005, I went on a young adult retreat through United Methodist Church when I heard the voice of the Lord say, ‘Education,’ Lewis” said. “From then on, I knew it was the right decision.”
A year spent as a substitute teacher in Prince George’s confirmed for him that teaching was his true calling, and he entered the school system’s Resident Teacher Program, which is designed to assist those in other career paths to become teachers, and he has been teaching at Walker Mill since 2007.
Lewis said Walker Mill was initially the last place he wanted to teach, despite his love for his alma mater, because he lived a short distance from the school.
“I was afraid the students would find out where I lived and knock on my door,” said Lewis, who attended Prince George’s County Public Schools.
Walker Mill is extremely fortunate to have Lewis as a teacher, Principal Nicole Clifton said.
“Mr. Lewis is so deserving of this award. He is so focused and passionate,” Clifton said. “He is awesome. He has made all of us proud. The seventh- and eighth-graders adore him, the parents adore him, we all adore him. He is more than you could ask for in a teacher.”
“If he didn’t win it, I would have liked to have seen who would have, because there is no teacher better,” she added.
In addition to teaching, Lewis also serves as the school’s debate coach and as a motivational speaker at school assemblies.
Lewis was selected from a group of 39 nominees; the largest group of teachers nominated in the 27 years the school system has recognized Teachers of the Year, said Master of Ceremonies Dave Zahren, a weather forecaster at television station WJLA-ABC7.
Lewis was among the four finalists for the honor; the other three were Patrice Porter Lawrence, video arts teacher at Frederick Douglass High School in Upper Marlboro; Jennifer Boyles-Kellner, sixth-grade teacher at Forest Heights Elementary in Oxon Hill; and Erica Bair, fourth-grade teacher at Valley View Elementary in Oxon Hill.
Lewis will join representatives from other Maryland counties in competing for the title of Maryland Teacher of the Year, a process coordinated by the Maryland State Department of Education. The winner will be announced this fall and will go on to represent Maryland in the national competition.
Lewis said his favorite thing about teaching is the relationship he is able to build with students.
“I tend to be more stern than I am cool, yet I make sure that my students have a firm education,” Lewis said. “But to see them come in each day and say hello and hug me, and to see how they respect me, that’s probably the greatest thing,”