Instilling a Love of Learning
Earl ’62 & Barbara Lewis
“I struggled as a student,” Earl “Skip” Lewis recalls of his elementary and early high school years. “I had trouble reading — the letters would get transposed. Back then, dyslexia wasn’t really known, understood, or diagnosed.” Skip says that the untreated dyslexia made learning not just difficult but also a chore — and his grades reflected it. “I got by, but just barely. The fact is that I didn’t really like learning.”
Things turned around, however, when he transferred to New Hampton School for his junior and senior years.
“The headmaster at the time, T. Holmes Moore, was a big influence on me,” Skip says. “He and the teachers I had were so patient. They made me curious, and for the first time, I began to like learning.”
Another factor that Skip attributes to his newfound interest in learning was New Hampton’s setting. “There just weren’t a lot of the usual distractions of other high schools,” he says. “The campus was — still is — beautiful, and being relatively isolated, geographically, made the living and learning experience more social. We learned with and from each other.”
Skip’s wife, Barbara, is as enthusiastic about New Hampton as her husband is. “New Hampton has always been a special place, a great place to learn with an outstanding faculty,” she says. “Being a teacher, I know that most students want to do well and please their teachers. A good teacher can have a tremendous impact on someone’s life, and NHS has a lot of great teachers.”
After New Hampton, Skip attended Clarkson University in New York, where he majored in science. He then went on to build a highly successful career, including two decades as Chairman, President, and CEO of FLIR Systems, a global leader in the design and manufacture of thermal imaging infrared cameras. Skip is passionate about the importance of education. He currently serves as a Trustee at Clarkson University, as well as a Trustee and generous benefactor for New Hampton School, funding numerous improvement projects over the years and, most recently, the Lewis Scholarship Fund.
“It’s important to pay back,” Skip says of his philanthropy. “Students today face a different set of challenges than when I was there. My parents had to scrimp and save to send me to New Hampton, and I benefited from that. I’d like to give students, especially challenged students, the same opportunity I had. Helping students is what New Hampton School does so well.”
“My parents had to scrimp and save to send me to New Hampton, and I benefited from that. I’d like to give students, especially challenged students, the same opportunity I had. Helping students is what New Hampton School does so well.”EARL LEWIS ’62