Creekland Middle School’s Lindsay Bowley Named 2014 CCSD Teacher of the Year
At the start of every school year, Creekland Middle School eighth-grade language arts teacher Lindsay Bowley shares with her class some ground rules… for herself.
“I will not take a bad mood out on my students.”
“I will not pick favorites.”
Eighth-grader Alice Moss said hearing a teacher set rules for herself blew her mind.
“She lets us help make up the rules for her… she respects us, and we respect her,” Alice said, with a smile that made it clear why Ms. Bowley is the Cherokee County School District’s 2013-14 Teacher of the Year.
Ms. Bowley was surprised in her classroom on Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2013 by Superintendent of Schools Dr. Frank R. Petruzielo, who announced to her, her students and the school that she was selected as the top teacher in the School District. He presented Ms. Bowley with a bouquet of roses, as her students clapped and cheered.
“She calls herself a ‘professional noticer’… she’s looking for the kids’ talents, what makes them tick,” Dr. Petruzielo said of Ms. Bowley. “I love that language – I think it’s very powerful. It’s also very powerful that she not only tells them the rules for them in her classroom, she tells them her rules for herself. It shows that not only does she expect the kids to behave with respect, she will show them respect, too.”
The District’s Teacher of the Year is selected by a panel of community leaders, who evaluate applications from each school’s Teacher of the Year. The school winners are selected by their peers.
Ms. Bowley will be honored in December at the District’s annual Teacher of the Year Banquet sponsored by Northside Hospital-Cherokee and Credit Union of Georgia. She also will be entered as the District’s nominee for 2015 Georgia Teacher of the Year, which will be announced in the spring.
Ms. Bowley began her teaching career in 2007 at Creekland Middle as a sixth-grade language arts teacher, and since then has taught sixth-grade social studies and Georgia History and today, teaches eighth-grade language arts and Georgia history. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree in middle grades education from Kennesaw State University in 2007 and her Master of Arts degree in middle grades language arts from Piedmont College.
Her classroom is filled with middle-school coolness – posters of Justin Timberlake and Justin Bieber (signed, no less), album covers hanging from the ceiling along with a candelabra (from when the classroom was transformed into an opera house for a writing exercise, of course) and a framed piece of writing from when she was a kindergartener. It reads: “When I grow up, I want to be in front of little kids and teach lots of stuff.”
And she herself is a cool teacher… she sings, she wears costumes, she scores movie passes for rewards, but even more cool – she finds ways to crack the tough shells that middle schoolers use to shield themselves.
One way is the “Feather Circle.” The students sit in a circle to share their writing with each other, and partner with the classmate whose writing speaks to them so they can be an encourager. And then there is Monster Poem day when the students in this circle share poetry about a “monster” in their lives. A student who has carved the word “mistake” in her arm reads about her struggles with cutting. Another shares about her mom’s abusive ex-boyfriend. Another recites verses about being bullied. Ms. Bowley reads her own “monster” poem, too.
“When I think about my greatest accomplishment in education, my mind is instantly drawn to faces and names, to the small moments of significance that can’t be simply stated,” she said, noting the “Feather Circle” creates these kinds of moments. “I can’t think of a more rewarding accomplishment than seeing these normally self-centered eighth-graders ignore their preconceived notions about one another, taking the time to experience life from someone else’s perspective.”
Former student Zoe Guthrie, who now is in high school, said there’s never been another teacher in her life like Ms. Bowley.
“She is not just a teacher to me, but a mentor and a friend,” Zoe said, noting Ms. Bowley was there for her through some of the “toughest parts of my life.” “She is different from every other teacher I have ever had.”
Principal Deborah D. Wiseman said Ms. Bowley’s gift to engage and inspire others extends not only to her students, but also her colleagues – both new and veteran teachers alike, as she is quick to take them under her wing for encouragement.
“Ms. Bowley understands that one of the most important aspects of teaching is engaging students in active learning,” Dr. Wiseman said, noting she frequently sends teachers to her classroom to observe her and take notes. “Middle schoolers can be challenging at times, they can be difficult – they need people who care about them. She cares about them. She believes in them. She’s not going to give up.”
Her passion for education has led Ms. Bowley to pursue continuing education for herself and her peers through projects including the Kennesaw Mountain Writing Project, for which she serves as Advisory Board chair. She also volunteers in school – through serving as the basketball cheerleading coach and as sponsor of Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Student Council and Junior Beta Club; in her church – through teaching Sunday school and serving on mission trips, including a September break trip to train village school teachers in India; and in the community, such as her work with Wellspring Living to aid survivors of human trafficking – including children.
“We’re proud to have someone like Ms. Bowley working in our system,” Dr. Petruzielo said. “She clearly has a calling to be a teacher, and she was born to work with teenagers.”
The Cherokee County School District celebrated outstanding educators with an elegant dinner, tributes and gifts at the Cherokee County 2014 Teacher of the Year Banquet thanks to the support of community partners. The annual dinner for the Cherokee County Teacher of the Year and all CCSD school-level Teachers of the Year was co-hosted by Credit Union of Georgia and Northside Hospital-Cherokee on Dec. 12, 2013 at the Northside Hospital-Cherokee Conference Center in Canton. Donations also were made by: Alcatel, BrainPOP, CommScope, Dell, Fforg, Kroger, Lifetouch Portrait Studio, netTrekker, Panduit, Pearson Digital Learning and Southern Computer Warehouse.
2014 School Teachers of the Year
ACE Academy: Rebekah Welch
Arnold Mill Elementary School: Ines Haas
Avery Elementary School: Amy Means
Ball Ground Elementary School STEM Academy: Amy Howell
Bascomb Elementary School: Nettie Mosteller
Boston Elementary School: Debbie Ritter
CCSD Preschool Centers: Jennifer Fowler
Canton Elementary School STEM Academy: Judy Wright
Carmel Elementary School: Julie Dutko
Cherokee High School: Michael Zoeckler
Clark Creek Elementary School STEM Academy: Kathryn Smerker
Clayton Elementary School: Karen Vernor
Creekland Middle School: Lindsay Bowley
Creekview High School: James Holly
Dean Rusk Middle School: Deborah Lanter
E.T. Booth Middle School: Susan Okerblad
Etowah High School: Rebecca Schwartz
Freedom Middle School: Melissa Christensen
Free Home Elementary School: Carry Holland
Hasty Elementary School Fine Arts Academy: Elizabeth Wall
Hickory Flat Elementary School: Nancy Hunter
Holly Springs Elementary School STEM Academy: Cindy Conley
Indian Knoll ES: Dana Martineau
Johnston Elementary School: Kathy King
Knox Elementary School: Janet Marotte
Liberty Elementary School: Lauren Roach
Little River Elementary School: Gina Cain
Macedonia Elementary School: Nancy Baker
Mill Creek Middle School: Phyllis Ailes
Mountain Road Elementary School: Cindy Deane
Oak Grove Elementary School Fine Arts Academy: Ardis Lussier
River Ridge High School: Laura Moore
R.M. Moore Elementary School: Beth Allison
Sequoyah High School: Andy Kohler
Sixes Elementary School: Mary Alice Gresch
Teasley Middle School: Lee Banks
Tippens Education Center: Susan Jones
Woodstock Elementary School: Rachel Wasserman
Woodstock High School: Andy Hall
Woodstock Middle School: Lindsay Roga