Laura Bowers

At the end of July, we said good by to long time employee Laura Bowers, an Assistant Director at our Secondary Center. Ms. Bowers worked in education for 32 years, and ALL of them at LCJVS/C-TEC!

To say that her wit and her leadership will be missed around here is an understatement.

We could think of no more fitting manner to say goodbye to Laura then to let her tell us in her own words. Check out this essay, written by Laura.

We love this, and it sums up so many things, so very well.

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“Then I will work at a real school…”

I uttered those very words to my family and friends over thirty-two years ago as I was about to embark on my career as an English teacher at the Licking County Joint Vocational School. I had been on the roller coaster of resumes, interviews, and emotions that many recent college grads find themselves riding when I learned of an opening at a vocational school in Newark. “Sure,” I thought, “it will at least be good practice to get another interview under my belt,” and off I went in my freshly pressed navy suit with my portfolio tucked smartly away.

My very first (and lasting) impression that day occurred prior to my even entering the building. As I approached with my nerves and deer-in-the-headlights expression clearly not as veiled as I had convinced myself they were, a young woman working in a flower bed near the entrance stopped what she was doing to ask if she could help me. Upon hearing my purpose for being there and that I was looking for the main office, she wiped her hands down the front of her jeans, escorted me to the front door, and physically pointed me in the direction I was to head, adding pleasantly, “Nice to meet you. Good luck with your interview.”  The receptionist greeted me in a similarly warm and welcoming manner and informed me that that was a student working out front who would be a senior in the coming school year. Little did I know that in that moment this student was the very first, but far from the last, of the thousands of students over my time here who have forever impressed their way into my memories and my heart.

As it turned out, I was offered that position in spite (or because?) of my youthful insistence at sharing with the interviewer my King Lear lesson plans from student teaching and her polite redirection to making English meaningful and relevant for all learners. The interview questions soon morphed into friendly conversation. Somehow it came up that I was the first on either side of my family to attend college; my father was a machinist, my mother was doing office work at the time. Grandparents on both sides had also done factory and secretarial work. I had come from a family of hard working people with a great deal of pride in what they could do with their hands, as well as their minds. It was from these people that I had learned to respect and appreciate hard work and developed my own work ethic.

I gladly accepted the offer, thankful that at least at this point I would have a regular job. Sure, I would have to relocate and move in with my mom and younger sister for a while again, but I had a job for the year at least! And then next year...I will work at a real school.

It is sad to admit that those were my actual thoughts as I took my first teaching job, but it is the truth. I knew next to nothing about career technical education except what I remembered from “the joint” that “those kids” went to from my own high school class; we saw and heard little of them again. My teacher training, though it included a variety of field experiences and locations from inner city kindergarten to AP English at a small rural school, never even mentioned the option or importance of career technical training for high school students, the age group I knew I wanted to work with. So, I went in blindly, but enthusiastically. This was the next step in achieving my lifelong dream of being a teacher. This experience would only serve to make me more well-rounded and marketable when the next year came around and I would be able to pursue a teaching position at a “real” school.

Thirty-two “next years” have come and gone without even once looking to go elsewhere. Why? As it turns out, that wide-eyed college grad brimming with good intentions, but saddled with misconceptions is the one who got the education. It did not take me very long to realize I had found what would become my second home and family and that I deeply loved what I was doing. I have learned in my fourteen years of teaching and eighteen years of being an administrator at C-TEC what “real” is. The students and the teachers and our mission here at C-TEC are more “real” to me than what I could have imagined. The level of care and individual attention and personal investment in the training of our students and preparing them for a successful future is “real.” Seeing the passion for learning and the pride in “real-life” projects awaken for the first time in young people who now see a purpose and pathway is a joy that cannot be described.

I worked at C-TEC. I would not want it any other way. I worked at a real school.

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Thank you, Ms. Bowers, for 32 years of service. You have made a difference in so many ways.

Enjoy your well-deserved retirement!