Lewis Ellem is noted as being one of the progressive and highly respected NSW primary school principals and classroom practitioners. He was born in the Clarence River district in 1926 and attended Grafton High School where he was school captain and dux prior to proceeding to Armidale Teachers’ College in 1935-1936. He taught at a number of NSW primary schools including Urbenville Public School, Rappville Public School, a small one teacher school at Kennackle Creek, Gladesville Public School and significantly, as principal of an Aboriginal school at Nulla Creek near Kempsey, where he was also manager of the Aboriginal Station during the years 1952-1953.
When at Gladesville Public School Lewis Ellem completed his B.A. degree from Sydney University. His career from 1953 involved his tenure as principal of a large school at Captain’s Flat, followed by a principalship of Murrumburrah Intermediate High School, and finally principal of the large primary school at Grafton NSW from which he retired after a most successful career in 1975. His other administrative responsibilities included his long involvement with, and his presidency of the North Coast Area Public School Sports Association for which he was awarded a life membership. His career is a fine example of a dedicated and highly committed educational professional who devoted his life to promoting excellence in primary school education in Australia.