Chamber and Morgan Hill educators have partnered on numerous programs

By Calvin Nuttall

Jim Levis

A passionate advocate of local educators, Jim Levis appeared before the Morgan Hill Chamber of Commerce last month to make an impassioned speech on behalf of the teaching profession.

“They are amazing, dedicated, passionate professionals,” said the president of the Morgan Hill Federation of Teachers. He spoke to the business nonprofit Oct. 5, World Teacher Day.  “We work every day with the goal of helping students learn about themselves by learning about the world around them. I have had the opportunity to work really closely with a lot of amazing professionals in a variety of settings.”

Levis began his teaching career when his position as a field engineer was eliminated at his company, and he was allowed the opportunity to reevaluate where his passion truly was. He reflected on the parts of his work he enjoyed the most: the training and teaching of customers and associates on the products and services he provided.

“That, and I really loved science,” he said. “Pretty much more than anything else. That led me to apply and ultimately start teaching in Denver.”

In his 22 years of teaching, Levis has worked at five different schools in as many cities across three states. He now teaches science at Britton Middle School. He was excited to explain two important programs to the Chamber: the Community Schools initiative and the Dual-Language Expansion at P.A. Walsh STEAM Academy.

“The Community Schools initiative is a continuation and expansion of many of the programs the district has sponsored and supported over the years,” he said.

Community schools are defined as public schools that provide service and support to fit each neighborhood’s needs, Levis said.

“They are created and run by the people who know the students best,” he said. “In community schools, as in all schools, teachers teach and students learn, but there is a wider focus on the whole child and family. Community schools provide before and after school programs, but go beyond the traditional extracurricular and athletic programs that we currently have.”

Levis also espoused the Dual-Language Expansion at P.A. Walsh, the continuation of a program that had been ongoing at San Martín/Gwinn Environmental Science Academy for many years. The program involves the immersion of students in English and Spanish simultaneously.

“Data shows students in bilingual programs, especially those who enter the program with limited English, outperform their monolingual peers,” he said. “

The Chamber of Commerce and Morgan Hill educators have partnered on numerous programs over the years, including Career Days at public high schools; the Rock the Mock program, where students do mock interviews to prepare to enter the workforce; and the original Morgan Hill Science Fair.

Levis concluded his address by reflecting on the reasons he and other educators work so hard to serve the communities they love.

“It is because they, too, have found their purpose and passion,” he said. “It is helping to move humanity forward every day, and of course to see the light go on in students’ eyes when they really get it.”

Calvin Nuttall is a Morgan Hill-based freelance reporter.