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Ultra Running SCPA Teacher Goes the Distance Inside and Outside the Classroom

Teaching is a marathon, not a sprint. No one understands this more than Harvey Lewis, social studies teacher at The School for Creative & Performing Arts, who has taught more than 20 years at CPS while participating in some of the most challenging long-distance races in the world. 

Ultrarunning is a step above marathons, with races and distances further than 26.2 miles and some competitions spanning multiple days. Lewis has won 30 ultramarathons and competed in 102 races across the world since 1996. Just this summer, Lewis traveled all over the world, from Death Valley National Park and Canada to Portugal, New Zealand and Australia.

“While I teach American government, my running adventures have taken me to 103 countries. I really enjoy making connections with places I've visited through discussions or sharing content with my students,” Lewis said.

Lewis leaves every destination with a deeper understanding of its land, history and culture that he applies to class lessons. Lewis, who runs to and from school each day, also promotes health and wellness with his students. 

“I aim to model positive action and good health with my consistency,” Lewis said. “I think it's important students get positive reinforcement about health in multiple places.”

Lewis, a runner at heart, also kayaks, snowshoes and hikes. Running to and from school gets him energized for the day ahead, and allows him to relax after work. Lewis is fully aware that his running influences his teaching, and vice versa.

His students serve as a source of inspiration and motivation and have even sent him notes of encouragement to read while competing. 

“It really gives me added energy to go further than I thought possible,” Lewis said. “I want to show my students that they can push further in whatever interests them and to chase big dreams!”

Harvey’s big pursuits are documented in the film “Like Harvey Like Son.” The documentary showcases his relationship with his father and their quest to cover all 2,190 miles of the Appalachian Trail in record time over 45 days during the summer of 2018.