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Young Middle Magnet ELA teacher earns Honorable Mention for NIE Teacher of the Year

Tampa Bay Times Newspaper in Education Honors Local Teacher

June 21, 2017 - Points of Pride

Audra Lewis, who has been teaching in Hillsborough County Public Schools since 2009, had a tough first year in the District.  Although she had been teaching in another county prior to moving to Tampa, the new evaluation was a major source of stress for her as she began her assignment at an elementary school teaching 4th grade.  In her own words, however, Audra says that “My failure was the reason for my success.”  The feedback that she was given from her peer evaluator changed her attitude, her outlook, and her career trajectory. 

Audra has taught at the elementary and middle school level, and she has also served as the writing coach for several schools, including her current school, Young.  She is a champion for students who need her the most, and teaching in a high need and/or Renaissance school is really what she is all about. 

In fact, just this Spring, she attended a hiring event that was created to allow our highly qualified and motivated experienced instructors to transfer to the highest-need schools in the District.  Audra was hired at Potter Elementary where she will be teaching fifth grade for the 2017-18 school year. She could not be more excited about the prospect and the challenge.  She has also applied to the Educational Leadership cohort at USF, and she is also excited about being given the opportunity to advance her skills, her competency, and her expertise!

Most recently, Audra taught Language Arts and Reading to a variety of learning levels at Young.  She notes that she uses all kinds of available media to teach her students what “real writers/authors/bloggers/Journalist techniques look like in action.  We dissect writing for different techniques and trends to analyze the format of successful writing.”  In addition to using the Tampa Bay Times as one of her very best resources, she also incorporates other types of literature, including magazines and journals that she has delivered to her classroom on a regular basis. 

According to Jodi B. Pushkin, NIE Manager for the Tampa Bay Times, “The Tampa Bay Times Newspaper in Education Teacher of the year award recognizes K-12 teachers, literacy coaches and media specialists who advocate for literacy and civic learning through the use of the Tampa Bay Times and NIE resources. Our Honorable Mention teachers from Hillsborough County were chosen because of their commitment to using the Times in diverse ways across subject areas to help their students understand the connection between current events and history, to learn the craft of professional writing, and to use newspaper articles to teach reading, math, and language arts. These three teachers go are using the information text from the Times to engage their students and liven up their lesson plans.”

One of the extra perks she enjoys by using the Times is that she doesn’t have to use her copier, copy paper, or other purchased items, which saves the District money, and affords every student access to a newspaper each time they are delivered.  She also uses all the sections of the newspaper as a basis for lessons, including the crossword puzzle, the classified ads, and even the horoscope, which was valuable in learning what the word “zodiac” means.  Her class makes “anchor charts” using leads from articles, and the students often perform group analyses of articles from the newspaper so they can discuss sentence structure, word choice, etc.

Audra Lewis is the master of her own classroom, and her students learn quickly that there are processes, procedures, and proper ways of behaving while in her class.  She doesn’t put up with nonsense, and she deals with incidents quickly and efficiently.  As she puts it, “Teaching is my show.  The kids are the most important consideration!” 

Congratulations, Audra, on being selected for Honorable Mention in this year’s NIE Teacher of the Year contest.  Good luck next year at Potter!  For more information about the Tampa Bay Times Newspaper in Education program, visit

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