Heather Lewis always wanted to be a teacher.

When she was in the second grade, writing on the chalkboard (yes, teachers really used to write with chalk!) was her motivation. When she was in high school, Lewis was part of the Teacher Cadet Program, an initiative that allowed kids interested in education to shadow teachers and lead instruction in class.

The Conway High School alum graduated from Coastal Carolina University with a degree in elementary education and later attained special education certification through The Citadel, before earning her Masters in Instructional Technology from Coastal.

Throw in 15 years of classroom experience – a journey that began at Whittemore Park Middle School and led her to Carolina Forest Elementary School the last three years – and Lewis is at the top of her profession.

But, like any job, having experience is only part of being successful. Lewis is invested in her students and their growth, which goes a long way in explaining what led her fifth grade pupils to vote her Rockin’ Jump Myrtle Beach’s Teacher of the Month.

“I was surprised because I had no idea (about the award),” Lewis said. “It was certainly nice to be recognized.”

One of Lewis’s students found out about the award at a Rockin’ Jump birthday party and helped organize the vote for her. As a result of winning, Lewis received a $25 gift card from Rockin’ Jump and everyone in her class received 30 minutes of free jump time, much to their delight.

As is the case with nearly every profession, numbers matter for teachers. Lewis wants her kids to reach goals, pass tests and move successfully through the school system, but the education she provides extends beyond multiplication and division.

Lewis enjoys taking her kids through social studies and teaching them poetry, seeing it as a form of storytelling.

“We talk about the fact that I know it’s not their favorite,” she said of poetry. “They moan and groan, but when we get deeper into it with kids, they have a-ha moments where they see the author has hidden meaning inside.”

Speaking of deeper meaning, helping kids develop empathy is a passion for Lewis as well. She works with students to help them understand everyone struggles, and showing kindness when someone – be it a fellow student or Lewis herself – is having difficulty can provide as much satisfaction as a great test score.

Those lessons, as much as the math and English, made Lewis Rockin’ Jump Myrtle Beach’s Teacher of the Month.