Susan Lewis: The One Who Stayed

Why didn’t this little birdie fly the coop?

NooR Fatima, Editor

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Permanence for young people isn’t a typical pathway in the United States as there is this deep societal value of independence, which urges restless souls to constantly long for change. Therefore, people generally don’t stay in one place for very long. As others crave a move into new environments, few people choose to stay in their hometown. But just because some people decide not to fly the coop, it doesn’t indicate that they aren’t encountering new experiences.

Susan Lewis, a Library Media Specialist at Brentwood High School gives her take on the choice to remain in Brentwood, as she breaks stereotypes and redefines what it means to stay “behind.” From a very young age, she knew she was destined to be a teacher. She had a “blackboard and old fashioned desks” as a kid and would play “school” with her sisters and cousins.

According to the article, What Never Leaving Your Hometown Does to Your Brain ,Sarah Sloat states, “It makes sense that highly active people have a higher tendency to migrate and social people choose to go to urban locations” (Sloat). This is very untrue in Ms.Lewis’ case as she has simultaneously juggled various activities throughout her life and continues to be a jack-of-all- trades. She  graduated from Brentwood High School and  majored in English and History in college. Her love for learning allowed her to explore  the field of education in and beyond the classroom, enabling her smooth transition from student to teacher. She says “I don’t know my life without school.”

Although she has held jobs in other places earlier in her career, Ms. Lewis truly believes these were only building blocks that led her back to Brentwood. She stated “I’ve  worked in other places earlier in my career…I belong in Brentwood. My heart and soul are invested in this school and community, and I couldn’t imagine my life any other way.” When people ask her husband how many children he has, his response is “I have four but my wife has an additional 4000+ at Brentwood High School.”

There are a many benefits of staying in one place for a long time, such as family bonds, tradition and local culture. When even a few generations of a family live in the same town, it can create traditions, strengthen indispensable family bonds, and can allow for the local culture to persevere through alterations. Ms.Lewis’ greatest hope is that everyone of her “children and [her] Brentwood children are able to take what they have experienced with [her] and pay it forward” in the same way she is passing on what her teachers and community gave her. She said, “I have gotten more from Brentwood than I could ever give back, but I will keep trying.”

Many have the lust for the bustling metropolis and allow for their jobs to determine their residence.This mobile and migratory way of life in seek of an urban lifestyle is very common. A physiological study published in the New York Times article, The Psychology of Moving,  showed that this need for people to relocate constantly could be due to “repetition compulsion,”(Kershaw) which makes individuals want to seek just the right place to live. This can be a result of being in a mobile family since early life. Another interesting point which this study discusses is “pulling a geographic,” which is when people use external changes to change internal conflict (Kershaw).

In the words of Jan Morris, a historian, author and travel writer, “Worldwide travel is not compulsory. Great minds have been fostered entirely by staying close to home. Moses never got further than the Promised Land. Da Vinci and Beethoven never left Europe. Shakespeare hardly went anywhere at all-certainly not to Elsinore or the coast of Bohemia.” This stereotype that a person must move away from home in order to broaden their horizons is untrue. The purpose of moving away from home is to condition one’s mind to change. Change, however, is inevitable – no matter where one chooses to live. Being independent and stepping out of one’s comfort zone does not require for someone to withdraw from their support system (family and friends) or their home. Ms. Lewis is one of many who have invested their lives in bettering their hometown community by making conscious efforts to continue living in their home sweet home.  

Works Cited

Kershaw, Sarah. “The Psychology of Moving.” The New York Times. 26 Feb 2010
Sloat,  Sarah. “What Never Leaving Your Hometown Does to Your Brain”. Inverse. 28 Sep 2015