The memories that Althea Lewis helped create in this small Town of Ponoka are countless. The former Ponoka Elementary School music teacher’s death last week saddened the many people who knew her. File photo

Editorial: Remembering Ponoka’s Althea Lewis

How does one recognize the tremendous influence that teacher Althea Lewis provided Ponoka

How does one do proper justice when writing about the life of a person like Althea Lewis?

The ripples of her influence cannot be understated, even though she would prefer to be left out of the limelight. And yet her untimely death puts her directly under the spotlight for all of us to remember and reflect. Now is her time to shine.

Mrs. Lewis left a mark on every single person she met, embodying the true spirit of empowerment and love. I can’t think of a time when seeing her didn’t put a genuine smile on my face. Often times I found myself searching her out in a crowd to get a warm hug, smile and words of encouragement for my children.

Mrs. Lewis was the kind of person most of us dream of being. In a world of anger, partisanship and blame, Mrs. Lewis was that shining beacon of light showing us what it means to really live and to celebrate the good qualities of the people around us. As one person put it to me about Mrs. Lewis: There aren’t many like her, if any.

The radiant spirit that was Mrs. Lewis created endless ripples of joy and love that was passed on to the countless students who crossed paths with her. She was an educator who had influence in just about every person’s life in Ponoka and we are lucky for it. In the decades of teaching in Ponoka, there aren’t many who didn’t have a chance to receive some musical education from her.

Mrs. Lewis brought the love of music into the hearts of countless children, many of whom have delved into the art years after they graduated. Her teaching, however, was more than just one of music. How does one do justice to the type of person Mrs. Lewis was? Her bright smile, laughter, love, and a spirit of only looking at the positive in life and in a person were strengths that she put into her teaching.

When we talk about true influence, it’s clear Mrs. Lewis’s is long-lasting, setting deep roots of love into our minds and souls. What does political or material influence have in comparison to the love that Mrs. Lewis planted in our hearts? The thousands of students who have walked through her classroom doors have had their lives changed because of who she was.

And yet, Mrs. Lewis was never one to shed light on herself, preferring to let others take in the glory. Maybe for her, acclaim came in the success of the people and events around her. How is it possible that someone would be so willing to remove themselves from the spotlight, preferring to shine light onto others? For most people it’s not possible. But we’re not Mrs. Lewis.

Here we have a petite woman whose smile would light up a room and whose love would make everyone in it feel better about themselves. When we talk about influence, Mrs. Lewis had the ability to move mountains and yet it was with a subtle hand and guiding heart that made it happen.

How does one honour a person who so thoroughly cared for the people around her that her joy came in seeing them raised up? That was the magic within Mrs. Lewis; that it was enough for her to see others do well. Perhaps for Mrs. Lewis it was that a little piece of her was passed on to the people around her. That piece was then passed on to others and the ripples of her influence continue on. And so she lives on through her actions and the change she brought in us.

A woman so small, yet so full of life has left this physical world and even in her death, has given us the gift of her love to share with others. I can’t honour Mrs. Lewis well enough in words, but I can attempt to be in some small part like her, to share her empowerment and love of others.



jeff.heyden-kaye@ponokanews.com

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