Ode to Ms. Lew

One student’s reminiscence


Forty-five. I flipped over my first in-class essay and saw the number written in big red writing. Earlier that week, Ms. Lew warned our honors class that she was disappointed with our essays and that “someone” had even gotten a forty-five. At the time, I thought the statement had no relation to me and I even pitied the receiver of the demoralizing grade. I was still in denial when Ms. Lew called me into her room after class where she severely broke the news. She made it clear that she was grading me against my own potential and wouldn’t take any more “fluff”. She didn’t care that I had read the book or written a five page essay, she wanted to see my best writing in each assessment. After breaking my 8th grade heart, Ms. Lew gave me a huge hug and then asked me to refill the water in her coffee brewer. In reflecting on my F, I am reminded of Ms. Lew’s commitment to each student in her classes. It didn’t matter who you were, Ms. Lew would demand your best and you would leave her class a better writer.

The first day of 8th grade, I was a new student and had no idea what advisory was or how I was supposed to get there. I was standing by the lockers with friends when the bell rang and everyone ran to their advisories. I was left alone in the hallway. I was trying to read the closest room’s number when Ms. Lew poked her head out from behind the door and asked if I was Danielle. While I knew I was meeting my assigned advisor, I had no idea the impact she would have on my life.

My fondest memories of Ms. Lew include commonplace occurrences in advisory. I remember our breakfast rotation on Wednesdays, helping her put in her earrings and even her smooth voice when she read the announcements. After serving decades as the matriarch of Miami Country Day School, Ms. Lew’s spot in the upstairs breezeway continues to embody her presence. She always knew what was going on in the middle school and was willing to help anyone in need. Her room was a sanctuary that made us all feel safe and loved. I remember when Ms. Lew had us all put her number in our phones in case we were ever in danger or needed her help. She promised to always be there if we needed her.

Toward the end of my eighth grade year, I asked Ms.Lew to write me a recommendation for a scholarship. She told me that she knew the family providing the scholarship, winked and told me she would handle it. Ms. Lew consistently ensured and encouraged my success and I will be eternally grateful. I dreamt of the day I could bring back my college’s mascot teddy bear to add to her large collection.

Solely from the impact Ms. Lew had on my Country Day experience, I know that she will stay in the hearts of countless people both from within and outside our school community. She was an amazing mentor, singer, advisor, mother, storyteller, teacher, and so much more to so many people. To my fairy godmother, we will always love you and will never forget you.