Sean Lewis: The Legend

Imagine working at the same place for about 16 years. Working hard, starting a program of your own. For many teachers at Woodland Regional, this is a reality, as they have been at Woodland since the grand opening in 2001. Sean Lewis was one of them; a founding member, who built a program from the ground up, although he had to eventually bounce between the middle school and the high school daily. The first time he saw the school, the walls weren’t painted, and the walls of the band room weren’t even completed yet. The workers put some of the acoustical blocks the wrong way, so they had to take it down and put it back. You can still see the effects of this today on the walls, much like you can still see the effects Lewis had on his students.

Sean Lewis built up a respectable reputation for himself. Students loved him, affectionately calling him a plethora of nicknames, ranging from Senorita Slewis, to Slewey. Lewis had directed some shows with Woodland theatre, and musically directed most of the shows Woodland had put on. Though the numbers in the music classes began to dwindle recently, Lewis never lost his strength, keeping a close bond with the students who always were in his classes.

Before working at Woodland, Lewis worked at Naugatuck High School for five years; he worked at Tolland High School for six months before that. Additionally, one of his years spent with Woodland was actually spent in the United Kingdom, in a teacher exchange program. But Woodland was different.

“It’s not often you get to start something, and be part of a community from the very beginning like that, coming from Naugatuck, where I’d been a student and I had gone through their music program, and then working and teaching alongside people that I had had as teachers, and for me at Woodland, it was a brand new opportunity. To be part of a team where we were all coming from different places, bringing our own experiences, being part of this community, and starting something brand new, there was something very unique and powerful with that.” Lewis said, remembering back to those first few weeks in 2001, when most current students attending Woodland weren’t even born yet.

Lewis began working at Holy Cross High School in September, ending his sixteen year reign as Woodland’s music teacher. He hopes to build up another program, like he did for Woodland. Holy Cross is much different than Woodland: it’s a private school, so students pay tuition to go there, enrollment is smaller, and it’s a catholic school. In some ways, it’s similar to Woodland: a similar size, similar offerings for students, and similar opportunities. But Lewis said that he once again has the opportunity to build a program, like he did for Woodland.

Leaving Woodland, in his eyes, was bittersweet.

“Leaving students that I’ve come to know and students that I haven’t had the full opportunity to work with yet, and some of the friendships with my colleagues, are parts of it that have been a little bit bittersweet. There’s not a sadness to it, again, it’s a time to reflect. To look back on things that I accomplished and experienced here, and look at it fondly. To understand the value of it,”

Throughout all of this, and after all of his hard work and dedication, Mr. Lewis had no fears of losing the bonds and friendships that he created with his students and coworkers.

“We could go five years without seeing each other and somehow end up still being able to bond through music at some point, at some music festival, or community group, or musical theatre,” said Lewis. “Whatever it might be, that common bond is through the arts and through music.”

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