Mrs. Lewis


Kierra O'leary, Staffer

As accurately expressed in her obituary, “Love was the central component of her existence, she loved freely and completely.” 

   On the afternoon of Nov. 26, the Martin community lost an extremely remarkable woman. Tonji Lewis, was a Martin teacher of 22 years, as well as a Warrior alumni. Lewis’s Celebration of Life was held on Dec. 3, where friends and family came together to remember her. 

   Lewis’s contributions as an educator include teaching two advanced English courses, involvement with the STEM Academy, sponsoring the National Honor Society, and participating in a leadership program through The Holdsworth Center in Austin. 

   Principal Marlene Roddy, who worked with Lewis in the leadership program, described the legacy she believes Lewis will leave behind here at Martin.

   “I think her legacy will be that she was driven to do the absolute best for her students and to get them where they needed to be in order to be successful,” Roddy said. 

   Lewis’s impact on her students is unlimited, leaving a mark on every student who passed through her classroom. 

   “Mrs. Lewis was full of spirit, curiosity, and communication,” junior Sierra Nguyen said. 

   Due to the unique education circumstances caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, many students found the back-to-school transition quite difficult. Nguyen described how Lewis helped students adapt. 

   “She pushed the community in such a seamless way that coming out of quarantine didn’t feel intimidating, but welcoming,” Nguyen said.

    As one of the sponsors of the National Honor Society, Lewis devoted a lot of time to her community. Current NHS president, senior Nicole Tacconi, and fellow sponsor Nina Glass said Lewis was truly selfless, spending hours upon hours planning and executing projects to better not only the Martin community, but all of Arlington as well. 

   “Mrs. Lewis made deep connections with her colleagues here at Martin, and she will be remembered for those connections, both to the students and teachers,” Tacconi said. 

   “Mrs. Lewis became my mentor and my friend,” Glass said. “I came to her with all of my dilemmas and problems – related to teaching or not. She was my confidant. She instilled wisdom into my life each and every day, just by being her.”

   Students and coworkers said that Lewis always had a smile on her face and projected her genuine happiness onto others. There was never a dull moment in her classroom, it was always full of warmth and excitement. 

    Jennifer Rothwell, a very close friend of Lewis, whose classroom is right next door, has many fond memories of their close relationship. 

   “We did bible studies together, we helped each other with parental advice, she helped me with my job”, Mrs. Rothwell said. “She impacted almost every aspect of my life ”.

   Mrs. Lewis was one of the kindest and most inspirational people to enter Martin High School, and we are so lucky that alongside her husband Jonathan, and daughter Sarah, we were able to get to know and appreciate her. Mrs. Lewis will continue to be loved tremendously by everyone here at Martin and will be dearly missed. May she rest in peace.