I am #TeamOKCPS: Board Chair Paula Lewis
As we start the new year, we begin the month of January by celebrating our school board members and thanking them for their hard work and commitment to our students and to public education. It is also a time to remind our families and communities of the important role that a school board plays in shaping the present and future of public education. Although appreciating board members and is a year-round action, we’d like to take the time to express our gratitude to our board of education for being part of #TeamOKCPS and for planting seeds of success!
Meet Paula Lewis, Chair of the OKCPS Board of Education, mother of two and a native of Lawton, OK. An alumni of Eisenhower Senior High School, Lewis has been part of the OKCPS Board of Education for almost three years and holds two Bachelor of Science degrees: one in Biology from Southwest Missouri State University and one in Occupational Therapy from the University of Oklahoma. In addition to her undergraduate education, she also holds an MBA from the University of Phoenix. Co-owner of Quest Pediatric Therapy and former professional golf player, Lewis juggles her busy days between her job, serving as the chair for the OKCPS board, meetings, and spending time with her family.
What is your favorite part of being a board member with OKCPS?
“My absolute favorite part of being a board member is having the opportunity and the voice to create access, both now and in the future, for all children regardless of socioeconomic position, race or culture.”
What is the most challenging part of being a board member with OKCPS?
“The most challenging part of being the chair for OKCPS is the time needed to be effective and knowledgeable. As the chair, I spend many hours staying in contact with each board member individually to understand where they each stand in order to effectively move as a unit in our role as employer of the superintendent. As a parent, the most challenging part of being the chair is separating what is good for my child versus what is good for the whole of OKCPS.”
In your opinion, how would you describe the importance of having a board of education and board members?
“I am so proud of our board, each of us are consumers of education, either as parents or grandparents. All of us are products of public education. The board is essential in connecting policy to boots on the ground work for each student, each teacher, principal and support staff.”
As a board member, what do you most fervently stand for and what would you like to see accomplished in the school district?
“I truly believe that public education can be the great equalizer but only when society is willing to acknowledge the barriers that each of our students face. I believe the barriers to mental well-being of our students must be acknowledged and how not addressing these barriers impacts students’ access to learning. I also believe we must recognize the barriers to mental well-being of our teachers, as they are on the front lines with our kids.”
What does your typical day look like?
“I hop out of bed between 4:30am and 5:00am, have a cup of coffee, work out, watch the news and then start waking up kids around 6:40am. I take my kids to school between 7:30am and 8:00am and start my work day by answering emails, attending meetings, and providing treatment at Quest Pediatric Therapy. I also have intermittent meetings for the school board throughout the day, answer phone calls, and emails. I get home around 5:00pm and end the day by reading to my youngest before he goes to bed--unless I'm at a meeting.”
What do you like to do in your free time?
“I like outdoor activities and spending time with my kids. I'm close to my mom so I call her at least once a day.”
Tell us about your family and pets?
“I have two sons, both adopted. I also have 4 brothers and many nieces and nephews. We have one dog, Joe. He is a blue heeler, Rottweiler mix.”
Do you have any hidden talents?
“Most consider my golfing ability my hidden talent. I played in college and was fortunate enough to play pro for a year.”
What is the one book or film that everyone should read or watch?
“I think everyone should read Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman”