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Q and A With Dr. Robert Lewis, Head Of Middle School

When Dr. Robert Lewis visited Lausanne in early March, Covid-19 was just beginning to change our day to day lives. Upon accepting the position, Dr. Lewis spent the summer preparing for his new role and how he would continue to positively shape the lives of students during a pandemic. When his tenure at Lausanne began in August, the experienced administrator immediately began making an impact, adding perspective to the school's plans for reopening and moving forward with the International Baccalaureate MYP. Now, as we approach fall break, we discuss what brought him to Lausanne and his vision for the Middle School program. 

What interested you about Lausanne that made you want to accept the position as Head of Middle School? The biggest draw for me was the opportunity to be part of the leadership team at the premier independent school in Memphis. Secondly, I have heard lots of good things about the quality of life in Memphis.

Now that the school year is in full swing and you have been able to see first-hand the Lausanne Way, what do you like most so far? Has anything surprised you? I absolutely love working with a group of children that are so intelligent, articulate, independent, and socially conscious. Additionally, the Middle School staff go above and beyond to inform parents individually regarding their children's progress at Lausanne.

Before you came to Lausanne, you were at an International School in Mexico City– how has that experience helped you adjust to your position at Lausanne? I worked at a first-rate independent school in Mexico for five years. That gave me insight into a learning community's expectations for delivering a challenging and inclusive educational program.

You have experience with the IB Middle Years Programme as well. Why do you think the MYP curriculum is essential for students? The MYP framework is a structure through which we prepare our students for the Upper School's DP program and beyond. The MYP design creates a balance of delivering a world-class academic program, teaching essential study and work habits that will create lifelong learners, and cultivating a global mindset.

Has your previous experience running a successful MYP program helped shape your vision for the Middle School program at Lausanne? Very much so! My previous experience taught me how to educate the learning community about the MYP, successfully execute the program, and enhance our students' academic experience.

Applying what students learn in the classroom to real-world situations and embracing global-mindedness are integral to the Lausanne learning experience. Why do you think this is important? Simply put, we know through educational research that learning through "real-world situations" or authentic learning, is how students best learn, comprehend, and retain complex concepts and issues. "Global-mindedness" is how we prepare students to function and thrive in a diverse and interconnected world. Without this mindset, students will find it hard to succeed in their future careers and social lives.

Lausanne traditions like The Middle School House Sorting, 8th-grade step-up day, and Spirit Week are part of what makes Lausanne special. Is there a tradition you look forward to experiencing? I was excited about the house sorting (I'm a Monmouth Bear!), and I am looking forward to all of the upcoming house activities. It's very exciting for a "newbie" like myself!

When you're not on campus, what do you like to do in your free time? I enjoy exercising and staying fit, movies, live music, and trying out new restaurants. Unfortunately, during the COVID crisis, some of these activities are too risky to enjoy at present.

Since moving to Memphis, is there anything you look forward to seeing or doing in your new home city? I hear that the live music scene in Memphis is something special. I can't wait to get out there and explore all the City has to offer.

Head of Middle School, Dr. Robert Lewis, is a native of Pennsylvania and has a diverse learning and teaching background. After graduating from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Social Sciences Education, he went on to obtain his Masters in History and a Doctoral Degree in Education from the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Lewis holds an MBA in Human Resources from the Keller Graduate School of Management at DeVry.

Following ten years as a Social Studies teacher in Pittsburgh public schools, he moved into school administration, becoming a School Principal. Rising from Program Director to Regional Director for New York Schools, he became Regional Vice President for Lighthouse Academies. In the role, Dr. Lewis taught school leaders how to design and execute Academic Strategic Plans that identified, implemented and evaluated grade-level student-centered goals and skills. 

Before coming to Lausanne, Dr. Lewis was the Head of Middle School at the American School Foundation (ASF) in Mexico City. The most prestigious independent school in Mexico, ASF has a K-12 student body of over 2,000, including over 500 students in Middle School. After accepting the position as the next Head of Middle back in March, Dr. Robert Lewis spent the summer preparing for his new role.