Former Bowie students return as teachers


Sammie Thompson

Transitioning from being a student to being a peer of former teachers is something that each alumni has had to deal with.

Julia Arriaga, Staff Writer

It’s finally graduation day for the Class of 1997 at Bowie High School. Everyone throws their caps into the air in celebration of the past four years of hard work and dedication. At the time, science teacher Erin Kowalik didn’t think that she would ever return to this campus. 11 years later, she found herself doing just that.

“I had the chance to interview to work here,” Kowalik said. “That was not something that I think I would have ever predicted as a student. I think my student self would’ve been really surprised at how excited I was to come back.”

According to Forbes, teachers have about 50-hour work weeks. That’s a large difference from the average American. According to Statistica, the average American has a 37-hour work week.

“When you’re in high school, you just don’t realize all the work that your teachers are doing all day long, whether before school, after school, or throughout the day,” Culinary teacher and former Bowie student Kathryn Mayo said. “I didn’t realize that there is so much behind the scenes of being a teacher.”

A member of the Class of 2015, Mayo has now been at Bowie for two years: one year as a Nutrition teacher and one year as a Culinary teacher. Before coming to her current job, she worked in hospital administration. After some thought, she decided to change up her career path.

“I pivoted,” Mayo said. “I decided that I wanted to pursue nutrition in some way. I wasn’t a certified dietitian, which requires more schooling and it’s more clinical. What I studied was more holistic, as far as public health, and how food impacts it.”

Mayo combined her love for nutrition and cooking in her next job as a personal chef.

I became the personal chef of a student with an eating disorder,” Mayo said. “I got to see that student heal through food, and I was really happy to be a part of that. That was probably the catalyst of realizing that I really like this cooking thing.”

Students at Bowie have a lot to say about her class and teaching style.

“I think Chef B is a perfect example as a teacher,” sophomore Will Louis said. “She’s very good at cooking and giving directions. Her notes are fun.”

This school year marked year 34 of Bowie’s existence. From Bulldogs and Hot-dogs to the No Place for Hate parade, the traditions have changed over the years. Theater teacher Matthew Humphrey graduated 22 years ago and remembers these traditions as an integral part of his high school career.

“We used to do things like a homecoming parade,” Humphrey said. “Each class would be responsible for making a float. It was a big competition and a cool kind of unifying experience.”

Transitioning from being a student to being a peer of former teachers is something that each alumni has had to deal with. Kowalik experienced this with her former math teacher, Bill Russell.

“There was a teacher I had for math,” Kowalik said. “I don’t know how long it took me to call him by his first name. Every time I did I would run away and hide. So I’d made sure that if I was going to call him Bill, I would say ‘Nice seeing you Bill,’ and then I could go because that felt so weird. But it’s actually been pretty easy to transition to seeing them as a colleague or a peer rather than a superior.”

Many alumni do not go directly into pursuing education. Through Mayo’s pursuit of medical administration, Humphrey’s traveling theater group, and Kowalik’s lab work, each teacher has had their own journey.

“We would tour at different educational institutions,” Humphrey said. “We would have public performances, and offer workshops in Shakespeare, stage combat, and improvisation. I found that I enjoyed teaching the workshop, just as much as performing the show.”

Each alumni has been a part of different programs, electives, and experiences in their time on campus. Returning to Bowie after Kowalik’s high school experience here was a large adjustment, but one that she expresses her gratitude for.

“Bowie’s changed a lot,” Kowalik said. “I came to Bowie midway through high school, and we had moved here, and it was not an exciting move. I was not very school spirited. There were traditions and things I participated in but I really didn’t feel as connected to the school as I do now. I get to come back and see people that taught me and work with my family, which is amazing. I think that I feel much more connected to Bowie now as a teacher than I did as a student.”