2016-04-02 / The Bullhorn

Former flight attendant now RCS math teacher

By Natalie Walters
Bulhorn Report er


Heather Lewis Heather Lewis Roxboro Community School seventh-grade math teacher Heather Lewis is a former flight attendant who flew for three years after graduating from Airlines Flight Academy in 2000.

Lewis became a flight attendant when she wanted a change in her life. She had attended North Carolina State University, jumping from major to major.

“My daddy would always tell stories of his time in the Air Force, and it just mesmerized me,” Lewis explained.

Her father had been stationed in Okinawa during the Vietnam War, and he would tell her stories of all the places that he had visited.

“I thought it was neat that he could jump on his buddies’ planes and go visit all of these places,” Lewis continued. She decided to apply for American Airlines Flight Academy, after which she was flown to an interview in Dallas. She was hired on the spot, and only about a month later, she began school.

After she graduated, Lewis moved to her first base in Chicago on Oct. 4, 2000. After Lewis had been flying for less than one year, the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon had a drastic effect on the airline industry, and an even bigger effect on American Airlines, since two of their places were involved.

“They stopped hiring and people that were in flight attendant school were sent home. They also began furloughing flight attendants immediately. The furloughs finally caught up with me in July 2003,” Lewis said.

Although the event caused many to be furloughed, including Lewis, she had gained experiences and memories that she felt would last a lifetime. She continues to keep in touch with a few of her fellow flight attendants and meets with them whenever she can.

During her time flying, Lewis also had the chance to meet a few celebrities. Some of the celebrities that she met on flights were Ray Charles, Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo and Heidi Klum.

Similar to her father, Lewis had the opportunity to visit multiple cities within the U.S., and many outside of it.

“I have so many favorite places. Domestically, I love Seattle, Chicago, Boston, New York City and San Diego. Internationally, I traveled around New Zealand for three weeks and would love to go back,” Lewis said.

The farthest she traveled was to China and New Zealand.

In August 2003, Lewis re-enrolled in college in hopes of figuring out what she wanted to do. She attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG), where she decided to major in elementary education, since she had felt happiest as a senior in high school volunteering at North Elementary School. At UNCG, a major in elementary education requires a minor, and Lewis chose math.

“I spent the first eight years of my teaching career as an elementary teacher, and these past two as a middle school math teacher,” Lewis added.

Though the flight attendant and teaching careers are completely different, Lewis said they do share some similarities.

“I remember my instructors at the Flight Academy constantly telling us, ‘Flight attendants have to be like palm trees, able to be flexible with whatever comes at them,’” said Lewis. “While I was a flight attendant, this included being reassigned during the middle of a trip, going someplace that you were not expecting, and then being gone for three days. I think this advice also goes for teachers. There are days when lessons don’t go as planned and I still think to myself, ‘Be a palm tree.’”

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