Congratulations to senior Ryan Lewis for being honored with a Princeton Prize in Race Relations. Ryan received this distinguished award for advancing racial equity in the GFS community by designing a seminal reading program that engages students in meaningful dialogue and deepens their understanding of diverse cultures. Ryan’s honor also recognizes her leadership role in SISTAHS and her collaboration with students, faculty, and staff to make GFS’ African American history course required within the Upper School curriculum. Her influence on GFS is felt on campus today and will be realized for many years to come.
In January 2020, Ryan joined a group of GFS students in Johannesburg, South Africa, to participate in an immersion course at African Leadership Academy. Accompanied by History teacher Jamie Tomczak, Ryan found the Academy’s seminal reading program greatly influential on her learning experience and helped her build relationships with other participants. Topics ranged from social justice to women’s rights, othering, and religion, allowing individuals from both GFS and more than 30 countries across the African continent to share their perspectives and reflections during group discussions.
Upon returning to GFS, Ryan spearheaded an initiative to use a seminal reading model to advance equity and inclusion discussions in the Upper School and advocated for time allotted in the school week for this effort. Working closely with Jamie, Ryan designed pilot lessons for the eleventh grade advisory groups, identifying text readings and videos and developing discussion prompts. She also trained advisors on facilitating the groups.
This year, Ryan has continued to expand her design of a seminal reading program through her Directed Independent Study, with Jamie as her faculty adviser. She continued to develop timely and relevant lessons for the eleventh grade and worked with the English Department and administration to formalize plans to expand the program to other grades next year. To continue the momentum and ensure the program’s future success, Ryan also recruited students to build upon the effort next year, as Ryan will enter Drexel University this fall.
“Ryan is a true leader. She worked hard, with thoughtfulness and strategy, to create a meaningful program, sharing this important learning experience with others here at GFS,” shared Jamie.
Ryan will be honored virtually on June 13 at 2 p.m. To learn more about the awards program, please visit https://pprize.princeton.edu.