When Mindy Lewis was elected to the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. board in 1996, she came with her own agenda revolving around diversity.
The first African American to serve on the district’s school board, Lewis made it a priority to promote diversity in the community and the school corporation.
Lewis was instrumental in making Martin Luther King, Jr. Day a day of service in the community. She believed in giving students multiple pathways to succeed. Most importantly, as former BCSC superintendent John Quick recalls, Lewis was “just a person who had a great deal of empathy.”
At age 65, Lewis died at 2:52 p.m. Sunday at Lee Memorial Hospital in Fort Myers, Florida. Still, her legacy lives on.
“While she saw her mission as serving as an active voice for marginalized students within the school district, she wanted to make sure her decisions as a board member would benefit all students,” said Bill Jensen, BCSC’s director of secondary education.
Jensen, who served as Columbus East High School principal during Lewis’ tenure on the school board, remembers Lewis as someone who was intense and focused. Nevertheless, he said she knew how to balance that intensity with humor, a smile and “a laugh that would light up a board meeting.”
Lewis served on the board from 1996 to 2006. In her roles as a member, vice president and president of the board, Lewis made every decision with students in mind, her colleagues said.
Quick said it was Lewis’ loyalty to the community that she served that made her stand out from other local leaders.
He said she was instrumental in the building of Central Middle School and creation of CSA-New Tech High School, and was known for “pushing the envelope” sometimes.
“Mindy certainly had a progressive mindset,” Quick said. “She believed in having multiple pathways, and she believed in those tenets of continuous improvement.”
To honor Lewis as a voice for the advancement of addressing diversity in the district and the community, the Cummins Foundation provided an annual award through the Bartholomew Consolidated School Foundation.
The Mindy Lewis Above and Beyond Diversity Award honors district employees who make significant contributions above and beyond their expected practice to improve teaching and learning for marginalized or under-represented students.
Lewis’ daughter Alexis Trocki remembers the instrumental role her mother played in establishing the high expectations objective of an inclusive culture, still used at BCSC today.
“I’m really proud of her, of the legacy she leaves in our family and in our community,” Trocki said. “When I think of her legacy, I think of the idea around challenging the status quo, having courage, being brave, not being afraid.”
Trocki said her mother was never afraid to ask the tough questions of how community leaders can continue to go above and beyond to be better and do what’s right.
In her own household, Lewis held her family to high standards with a motto from the Bible: “Do justice. Love kindness. Walk humbly with your God.”
“That’s a big piece of the legacy she left,” Trocki said.
[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”A lifetime of achievements” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
Mindy Lewis’ achievements
- First African American to serve on Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. school board
- Making Martin Luther King, Jr. Day an out-of-school holiday dedicated to serving the community
- Served as member, vice president and president of Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. school board
- Instrumental in building of Central Middle School and an elementary school
- Helped bring project-based learning to BCSC through Columbus Signature Academy – New Tech
- Promoted diversity within the community
- Former Director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Cummins, Inc.
- Former associate director of the Cummins Foundation
- Graduated with a bachelor’s degree in theater from Mount Holyoke College in 1975
- Earned a master’s in communications from Syracuse University in 1976
[sc:pullout-text-end][sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Services” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]
A private family funeral is planned for Mindy M. Lewis, 65, of Columbus.
Family and friends are invited to call from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday at Barkes, Weaver & Glick Funeral Home on Washington Street.
A celebration of life service will take place at a later date.