Today we want to recognize Nathaniel Lewis who has been with the school for 47 years! As I look around, he has been working here longer than a number of us have been alive!
Nathaniel started working here at age 19 on the cleaning crew. At the time, both cleaning and food services were carried out by in-house staff. When he reached 21, Nathanial was able to get his school bus driver’s license and he was given a daily bus route through the DC and MD neighborhoods picking up LS students in the morning, and dropping them off at home in the afternoon.
Sidwell owned the busses and the drivers were all SFS employees who worked maintenance jobs between the AM and PM bus routes. One of Nathaniel’s jobs was to work in the receiving and printing shop between routes. Before the days of PCs and desktop printers, he would mimeograph tests for teachers and print an assortment of official school mailings.
In the 80’s Nathaniel took charge of creating the bus routes around the city, catering to individual parent’s needs. These were custom door-to-door routes, and I recall one route where the bus had to stop in a very specific location between two shrubs so that it could be seen from the kitchen window. Only then would they send little Johnny out! The level of service Nathaniel supplied was one of the reasons Sidwell got out of the bussing business altogether. LS parents loved their bus service and would not let go of the bus as their kids became MS students. Eventually, the whole system just collapsed under its own weight.
But Nathaniel felt the call of the road and when the bus routes ended, he left Sidwell and took a turn as a cross-country truck driver. Fortunately for us, the truck driving life was not all that the trucking companies would have you believe, and when we heard he was back in town a year later, we snapped him up to be the LS maintenance supervisor. He has been at this position for almost 30 years - which for most of us would be a full career.
Many of the people who are attracted to maintenance positions tend to prefer to work quietly behind the scenes, thankful to serve the needs of the school, and shunning any real recognition or celebration. Nathaniel is no different, and tends to keep his home life fairly private. When I asked him a few questions about what comes next, he was characteristically non-committal, although he does plan to stay around the DC area. He may do a little traveling, perhaps even take a cruise in Alaska where he has a great-grandson.
When Nathaniel decided to retire, I asked him if he had any regrets, and he said no. He was just happy, thankful and grateful that Sidwell gave him a job all these years. But this is where he got it wrong. It is Sidwell that is happy, thankful, and grateful to Nathaniel for all those years of taking such good care of us everyday.
Thank you Nathaniel!