The Californian afternoon sun shines through the white canvas tent like E. Bonnie Lewis gives students their COVID-19 registration bracelets, greeting everyone with a bright smile and a sweet “hello my love” and “how are you today my darling?
The yoga and pilates instructor has been on staff at Santa Barbara City College for over 17 years year.
But Lewis’s life hasn’t always been the sunny days of teaching at City College. She faced the challenges of every instructor as the pandemic impacted education.
The Coronavirus has changed the dynamics of almost every area of ââdaily life. City College has transformed to occur during COVID-19, changing its educational culture for students and teachers.
âI had to relearn how to teach. Some people know how to design a really wonderful online site class, âLewis said.
“It was actually very difficult,” she said, explaining that what she loves most teaching is the interaction with its students. This face-to-face interaction has been the most difficult thing swept away by the pandemic in over a year. Now Lewis is more than grateful to be back on campus and teaching in person again.
âI experienced my students as wonderful teachers. The exchange that occurs fills me up great joy, âsaid the yoga instructor.
His students appreciate the positive relationship Lewis has with them.
“She’s the best,” said Jordyn Hopkins, a student who takes her class every year. “She is really ca ring. If you have to miss a classâ¦ she’s more concerned that you are doing well than that you weren’t in class.
Although she teaches in the physical health department, mental health is at least as important to Lewis. On several occasions this semester, the teacher took time in her class to educate students about resources available on campus to help maintain mental health, such as The Well.
“She really cares about you as a person,” said new student Leonie Schaefer. “Bonnie always wants to make sure you are okay. In and out of class.
But maintaining the well-being of his student is not his only mission.
Lewis and her husband run a local theater company, the âDramaDogs,â and she said leading the troupe during a pandemic was a challenge in itself.
âWhat’s really great about this relationship is that we’ve always loved the arts, so we supported everyone. the creativity of others, âLewis said.
Lewis and her husband act as art directors “performing, directing, choreographing, leading workshops and producing DramaDogs productions”, as their profiles on their website.
Although many arts and entertainment projects have suffered from the pandemic, the DramaDogs have been able to receive financial support from the state of California.
âWe were very lucky! says the accomplished theater artist. “I had to apply four times before I got state support, but we got support anyway.”
Working in the theater and teaching yoga at City College are part of his passion.
âMy whole life has been devoted to creativity, movement and expression,â said Lewis, whose first job was at age 19, introducing first graders to the creative movement. She received her Masters in Dance Movement Therapy from UCLA.
âHe’s an inspiring person,â Schaefer said. âShe has a very motivating and positive energy and you can feel it in his classroom.
Although the pandemic brought many challenges to life, Lewis once again learned how important it can be to find time to relax, a message that she also tries to emphasize and convey to all of her students in her yoga classes.
“It’s not easy for me – I don’t think it’s easy for anyone and I see it all the time in my students – to finally give us permission to slow down, âLewis said.