Staff Spotlight: Steve Bowers
Steve Bowers has been with Options Charter School since joining Options Carmel at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, and now teaches various middle school subjects at Options Westfield. He is an Indiana native with a Masters of Arts in Teaching from the University of Louisville. His career in education began in August of 2000 at North Bullitt High School, where he taught social studies.
In this interview, Steve talks about how he came to be an educator, his experiences in the field, and his career with Options. If you are looking for alternative schooling opportunities for your student, contact Options Schools today.
To learn more about one of our great Options teachers, read on!
In high school going into college, were you always thinking education?
I was not thinking about going into education when I was in high school. Actually, I was thinking of podiatry. So when I first started out in school, I was “Pre-Med” and switched to education after my transfer to Indiana University. There I did some work-study at the Boys & Girls Club in Bloomington. I changed my major again to Parks & Recreation Management, graduated, and worked in the Boys & Girls Club for the next eight or nine years.
When you think back to when you started in 2017, what was it like coming on to the Options team?
It was interesting. I had been in alternative education before, but never quite how Options is. I wasn’t prepared for a lot of it in those first four to five weeks. Especially considering I was coming in after school had started and taking the position of someone popular with the students. There was a lot of ‘oh who is this guy,’ but once the kids got to know me and understood my style of doing things, we hit it off pretty well.
You started as a high school teacher. What has your transition to middle school been like?
When the pandemic started, Bethany, our counselor, was teaching middle school, and we needed to free her up to do the counseling. So I told Michael Dunagan, the principal, that I would do it. He said, ‘are you sure?’ and I said, ‘how difficult can it be?’ and it’s been a learning curve. It’s different. I like the middle school kids. They’re an interesting group.
Coming into middle school, obviously, I was teaching social studies, then I took over a math class to help out with our largest group in 8th grade. This quarter, we were having trouble finding a science teacher, so I told Dunagan I would cover that so they could hire a history teacher, which is easier to come by. So this quarter, I am teaching two 8th grade science classes, a 7th-grade science class, and an 8th-grade basic skills.
So yeah, not teaching any history,” he laughed, “I do get to teach some art so I can throw some history in there! I like it, though. As long as you get the kids interested, it really doesn’t matter what the subject is.
How is it not teaching social studies or history this year?
It’s difficult because I’ve taught it for so long, so I don’t have to prepare as much. I know the sequence. Now with science, I have to go look at what the sequence and the standards are. It’s like being a first or second-year teacher again. It’s a little bit more prep, and being willing to make mistakes and telling the kids when you need to, ‘hey, I messed up, let’s redo it.’ Our kids are pretty good if you’re honest with them. They’ll make fun of you, but, you know, that’s the way of the world, I guess,” he joked.
How have you seen Options have an impact in the community?
What I think about Options, is that it allows kids, who in a traditional school setting would be pushed to the outer edges and ignored, a chance to learn. Not to say that traditional schools are doing a bad job, but those teachers are in rooms of 35, and they are overworked and overwhelmed. Options can provide a service to kids who would otherwise fall through the cracks. I think in that aspect, Options is a terrific alternative for a lot of our kids. Is it a perfect fit for everyone? Absolutely not, but for the majority of kids that are here, it’s a great fit.
In the present, they may not realize that, but when they get to the podium to get their diploma, I hope they think ‘this school is what I needed.’ I think a lot of our kids who graduate realize that, especially when they do the turning of the tassels and see their teachers and parents. I hope they know that not only were we their teachers, but also their supporters, in some cases, friends and that we were there to support them no matter what.
That kind of consistency and care is something that not all of our students have. Making sure they know that no matter what they might have done yesterday, I’m going to show up tomorrow and that we care about them is probably the most effective way to reach our kids.
What has your experience been like with graduating classes?
It’s a feeling of pride, but not of myself, but of the students and the work they put in. I know how hard some of them worked, and it was a struggle for some of them. Getting messages from our kids who have graduated is great. Graduates reaching out and saying ‘I love the new building’ or “oh my god, you’re teaching middle school? What are you doing?’ having those relationships is amazing. I’ve written several letters of recommendation for colleges, recruiters, employers, and all that sort of stuff. I mean, I have a kid in middle school whose mom I watched graduate. We’ve got generations!
I think, deep down inside all of us here, not just myself, there is a care for our kids.
What makes the Westfield campus so special? Is it the collection of people here or a general mindset that you all have?
We have a good staff relationship. Dunagan has done a great job of pushing that. It’s a family. There might be times that you’re irritated with something or someone, but everyone’s got everybody’s back. If someone is out, another person is stepping up and helping out. In my honest opinion, this has been the strongest staff I’ve ever worked with. We care about each other and go to bat for each other, and are willing to put in that effort, not only for the students but for our fellow staff members as well.
When you’re not at school, how do you like spending your time?
Besides my family, my biggest passion is golf. I’ve been playing for 43 years. I build and repair golf clubs. I enjoy the game because it’s always something different. You can go out one day and hit even par, and the next barely be able to break 100.
What else are you up to currently?
For the past year and a half, I have been completing my second Master’s program in Educational Leadership. I just finished up my educational leadership test about a week and a half ago! I hope to move into administration with that.
Other than that, my wife and I like watching Netflix shows!
Favorite television shows?
I liked Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, but I’m really into more historical drama type stuff. We love Downton Abbey. It really doesn’t matter, though. If it’s good, we’ll watch it!
What else are you passionate about?
I really enjoy the sport of golf. I enjoy playing a lot, and I’ve also become familiar with sprucing up old clubs to give them a second life. We have a group that goes to Tennessee to play golf every year and that trip is coming up. Nothing too fancy, but I get to have my golf outing, along with playing in a few leagues and socially with friends.
Indiana’s Best Alternative
“It is our mission and our vision to be able to provide a service to these kids who would fall through the cracks. Options is a fantastic alternative.”
If you are located in Indiana and are curious about how Options Charter School may be the right choice for your student,
contact us today.