Tue, Feb. 18

Fourth grade teacher Dr. Daniel Bright Elementary School, Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District

Fourth grade students at Dr. Daniel Bright School connect with the personality and humor of their teacher, Brenda Lewis VVN/Bill Helm

Fourth grade students at Dr. Daniel Bright School connect with the personality and humor of their teacher, Brenda Lewis VVN/Bill Helm

COTTONWOOD – With 29 years in the Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District, Brenda Lewis is in her first year at the newly realigned Dr. Daniel Bright Elementary School.

It was as a student at Mingus Union High School where Lewis “felt quite passionate about education.”

Her favorite part of teaching, Lewis says, is “challenging the students and allowing them to find their strengths and interest.”

Jessica Vocca, also in her first year as principal at Dr. Daniel Bright, says that Lewis makes a difference in the classroom “every day she comes in.

“One of my own children has been in her class and every day she would come home with a Mrs. Lewis story,” says Vocca, who was a Cottonwood-Oak Creek teacher before becoming principal at the former Cottonwood Elementary School before moving to Dr. Daniel Bright this year.

“Students connect with her personality and humor,” Vocca says. “A couple of years ago, we had a student in her classroom diagnosed with cancer.

“He called her personally every day and even talked on speaker phone in the classroom. The connection she had with that student and still has will always be special.

“I will never forget in all my years the impact she made on that one student. She kept him connected to the school and to his peers.” 

Vocca also says that Lewis’s experience is “thorough and her knowledge of content is almost unmatchable to any other teacher.”

“There aren’t many teachers I know who are in the same league as Brenda Lewis,” Vocca says. “She is one of the most reliable educators I have known. She is a leader within the district and an advocate for education in the Verde Valley.”


On two occasions, Lewis received the Rigor award from Cottonwood-Oak Creek School District. 

Three years ago, she took the leadership role in restarting the Cottonwood-Oak Creek Education Association (COCEA) after a roughly 15-year hiatus. 

“The COCEA joined forces with other schools within the state where the end result was needed funding put back into the classrooms,” Lewis said.


“I always tell my students that they can be anything that they want to if they believe in themselves and persevere.”


Lewis says her teaching style is “hands-on learning where the student discovers the answers themselves, and desires to learn more, asking further questions.”


Lewis is married, with two children. 

At the school formerly known as Tavasci Elementary School, she team taught fourth graders with her husband for six years.

“While teaching at Tavasci Elementary, my husband who I team taught with, started a yearly field trip, taking students on a hands-on discovery of Southern Arizona, including Bisbee and Kartchner Caverns,” she said.

“This will be the 14th year I have done this trip.”

-- Follow Bill Helm on Twitter @BillHelm42

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