B.A. Educator Lives Her Dream
By EMILY RAMSEY
TEACHER OF THE YEAR: Amanda Bowser, Broken Arrow Public Schools’ 2015 District Teacher of the Year, stands in her classroom at Oak Crest Elementary. Mounted on her wall is a drawing, drawn by the school’s art teacher, given to her by all of the Oak Crest teachers in honor of her Teacher of the Year recognition.
EMILY RAMSEY for GTR Newspapers
After the school day ends at Oak Crest Elementary, Amanda Bowser’s walk down the hall isn’t quick. That’s not only due to the congestion of students in the hallway. No, it’s mostly because of the hugs that Bowser stops to give to students.
Bowser’s relationships with her students are clear and her concern for them palpable.
“That’s why teachers do what they do,” she says. “We have to be in it for the kids.”
In April, Bowser was named Broken Arrow Public Schools’ 2015 District Teacher of the Year.
Bowser can pinpoint third grade as the time when she became sure of what she would do in life: “I knew I would be a wife and mother and a teacher.”
She even received detention one time in third grade for practicing her craft. She endeavored to help a fellow student who was having trouble reading during a time when the class was supposed to be reading silently. “I helped him sound out some words, and then my teacher gave me detention for talking,” she says. “But it was totally worth it.
“Watching his face light up, I realized how much I liked helping someone get it and understand.”
Bowser continued honing her teaching skills and went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from East Central University.
After graduation, she spent the following spring semester substitute teaching in the greater Tulsa area. For the last two days of the school year, she substituted at Oak Crest Elementary, and on the last day of school she interviewed there for a permanent teaching position.
“They called me the next day and said I had the job,” she says, smiling.
Bowser is now in her 10th year at Oak Crest.
Her past four years have been spent teaching Title 1 math, a class for students who are struggling in the subject. She works with students in grades second through fifth.
When Bowser originally took the role of Title 1 teacher, she was fearful, she admits. Instead of having one classroom of students all year, she would be seeing small groups of children throughout the day.
Still, that has not stopped Bowser from connecting with her students and growing as an educator, particularly in the area of flexibility.
“I have to be able to turn on a moment’s notice,” she says, “monitor students’ progress and adjust to their needs.”
Bowser’s teaching role also affords her more opportunities to work with and support her fellow teachers “because I have more time and resources available to answer questions they may have,” she says.
Four of Bowser’s previous teaching years were spent teaching fifth grade – an age group that she has always felt especially drawn to.
“Fifth graders get my sense of humor,” she laughs.
She also recognizes the changes that those students are going through. “I remember going through some defining moments at that age, so I feel like I know what they’re going through, and I like helping them figure it out,” she continues.
That often includes teaching students beyond book knowledge and focusing on healthy living skills, Bowser notes, like communication and conflict resolution.
Bowser’s range of student ages also allows her more variety than she experienced teaching one grade. “I love seeing the differences in the grades,” she says. “They’re all funny in different ways.”
As for her subject, math, Bowser says that she couldn’t be teaching a subject better suited for her. “Math truly is my passion, subject-wise. I love figuring out the best way to teach it to my students and empowering other teachers,” she says.
It’s no surprise, then, that Bowser refers to her current teaching position as her “dream job.”
Yet, no matter what subject or age group she teaches, one element for Bowser always remains constant.
“I can work really hard to create a great lesson plan and teach all the right things, but if students don’t know I love them then it means nothing,” she says. “I love getting to love my students and then to see them reciprocate that love.”