Getting To Know Vice-Principal Stephen Lewis

Stephen Lewis '75

Stephen Lewis '75

Mr. Stephen Lewis assumed the position of Vice-Principal at Damien Memorial School in January when Mr. Carrasco left for the D.O.E.  The “new” Vice-Principal is certainly not an unfamiliar face to students and faculty.  Most persons affiliated with Damien Memorial School the last three decades know the ubiquitous Mr. Lewis.  But did you know….?  

Mr. Lewis is a proud 1975 graduate of Damien and attended college at University of Hawaii-Manoa, Lewis University in Illinois, and then Chaminade in Honolulu where he received his BA in History and a Masters in Business Administration.  Mr. Lewis started at Damien as a Religion teacher back in 1979 and has held more than a few positions since. 

Mr. Lewis served as Director of Student Activities in the early and mid- ‘80s, advising Student Government, and supervising their activities.  He then served as the Assistant Athletic Director for seven years, handling a plethora of paperwork, scheduling team transportation, and supervising activities in the gym.

“More recently,” said Mr. Lewis in a recent interview, “I served as Dean of Students for 3 years.  I was responsible for working with our faculty and staff on maintaining the discipline that we are known for having here at Damien.  For most of the past 20 years, I have served as Chairman of either the Social Studies or Religion Departments—for a few years I did both.”

When asked if any one position that he has held stands out above the rest either personally or professionally, Mr. Lewis answered passionately: “While I have always strived to do my best at all the positions I have held, the one position that always stands out for me is teacher/coach.  There is nothing else quite like it.  To have the opportunity to touch someone’s life in such a potentially profound way is both an awesome responsibility and a tremendous challenge.  That is what keeps me young.  There’s not much to compare with what I call the ‘light bulb moments’; those times when you have worked hard to present a lesson and you begin to see [the students] understand and apply the information.”

As for the his responsibilities and duties as Vice Principal, Mr. Lewis said he will “primarily assist the Principal in the following areas:  faculty development, evaluations, curriculum development, scheduling of classes and exams, strategic planning, and fostering an efficient and cost effective use of technology.”  Mr. Lewis will be serving as the Summer School Coordinator, and assist the Dean of Students in student affairs matters when necessary.

When Mr. Lewis was asked if he is planning to implement any new program, policy, procedure or campaign to enrich or advance the school and the Damien experience.  He answered that “my focus, for now, is on working with all parties involved in our transition to one-to-one technology.  We firmly believe this program will provide our students even greater opportunity for learning, as well as, assist them in developing skills that are essential to success in the 21st century.”

Mr. Lewis reflected on the changes since he was a student at Damien, noting, “While our school is over 50 years old, there are things our students have today that I could never imagine when I was here.  A gym, computer labs, cold water fountains, air conditioned classrooms…the list goes on.  The greatest difference is that we are now co-educational.  The young women at Damien have brought a new spirit and energy to our school.  They are actively involved in all aspects of the school: academics, athletics and other activities.  Their presence and enthusiasm has pushed the young men to higher levels of achievement.  Where the emphasis was once on brotherhood, we are now truly developing a complete Damien ‘ohana.”

But there are things that have remained the same.  Mr. Lewis reported that the curriculum is still demanding, discipline held at a firm, reasonable standard, and that all “students still have the opportunity to develop bonds of friendship that will last for many years to come while developing a variety of skills that will benefit them throughout their lives.”

On the spike in enrollment since going co-ed, Mr. Lewis commented that the increase has had a positive impact on nearly everything done at the school, from utilizing the existing facilities to their full potential, to fundraising, campaigning, and just plain working hard to make the first phase of the E Ho’opa’a Campaign a reality, as well as being blessed with donations from local business and foundations, parents of students, and from past graduates.

Mr. Lewis said, however, that the school still needs help on this ambitious capital campaign.  “I would especially like to reach out to our alumni to consider giving something back to our alma mater.   Many already help, but there’s always room for more.  We who are part of Damien’s first half century have the opportunity to make it possible for Damien to reach out to another half century, and hopefully more, of Hawaii’s youth.”

When asked about Damien’s public image, Mr. Lewis said that it was improving, “sometimes in spite of ourselves.”  He explained that in the past the many accomplishments and achievements gained by the school, students, and faculty at Damien were never really broadcast to the community at large, but rather kept within the confines of the campus.  “Over the past 10 years or so, we’ve begun to be a little more vocal.  We’ve become more proactive when it comes to informing the community about the great things taking place at Damien.”

That great things are taking place at Damien is not only written in words and unfolding before the school, but also seems to be buzzing in the air around the campus.  For example, Mr. Lewis addressed questions about Damien going through another round of accreditation.  He said that a Self-Study and an on-site visit have been completed and an official notice of the school’s term of accreditation will come later in the summer.  Word around the campus is that it was a positive visit and great comments were received from the Accreditation Team.  But these comments were in part the Team’s response to the genuine joy of the students observed on campus (see an accompanying story in the newsletter regarding the accreditation).

But appropriately, he ended with something that gives him joy:  “I would love to see our students continue to make us proud of their achievements, both while they’re here and after they graduate.”

It is clear Mr. Lewis is a young soul, and loves what he is doing.  But did you know....?When he was told that he did not look old enough to have been a teacher for over thirty years, he responded, “Being around the youthful joy, energy, and potential of our young men and women is my fountain of youth.” 

Look into Mr. Lewis’ bright, attentive eyes, listen to his confident and animated diction, and then ponder the subtle exuberance that rhythmically rises up in him when he is teaching, mentoring, counseling, planning, or administering.  And once you have experienced these things, you will recognize the qualities that have made Mr. Lewis, an important member of our Damien ‘ohana.