In the spring of 1982 I was living in Concord, California with my parents and younger sister. My dad was transferred from the Bay Area to Columbus, Ohio and after doing extensive research my parents decided to locate our family in Worthington. 790 Ashler Court would be our family home for the next 16 years. It was from that home that I would attend Worthington Hills Elementary, Perry Middle School, McCord Middle School, The Kilbourne Freshman Building and Worthington High School.
Today I look back on my parents’ decision to choose Worthington with great appreciation. Like many high school and college students I was set on making my mark on this world outside of Worthington and as such I took my first teaching job in King George, Virginia. I taught 5th grade at Potomac Elementary School and my first classroom was in the school’s old kitchen. Teaching in Virginia was a great experience. Immediately it created an appreciation for my home of Worthington and in the fall of 1997 Dr. Ann Heffernan hired me to teach 5th grade at Evening Street Elementary. I was home and I was planning to be a teacher and a coach for my career. (I was coaching football at McCord Middle School and lacrosse at Worthington Kilbourne High School.)
As often happens, my plans for life shifted. Two things happened. For one, Dr. Heffernan pulled me aside one day and encouraged me to consider becoming a principal. I had never considered this before, but I was intrigued. Secondly, Dr. Gerald Prince appeared at my classroom door with some bad news. Because of budget constraints my position was being eliminated and I was being RIF’d (Reduced in Force.) My plans changed in a hurry. Luckily for me Dan Girard had left his position as Dean of Students at McCord Middle School and they had an opening. I was hired for the dean’s position and learned that I really liked the administration role.
After a few years at McCord I decided I needed to move outside of Worthington again. I became first an assistant principal, then a principal, and eventually the principal of two schools at the same time in Marysville Schools. These were great years for me personally and I will be forever grateful to my mentor Larry Zimmerman for his faith in me. But, as has happened consistently in my life, I came home.
In 2008 I was given the opportunity to work in Worthington’s central office (The WEC), first in Human Resources and three years later in my current assignment as Assistant Superintendent. Today I learned that the Board of Education has the faith in me to become the next Superintendent of Worthington Schools. I didn’t set out for this job. Even seven years ago when I joined Worthington I would have never imagined this was possible.
As a student in Worthington I was labeled with a learning disability. School was always very hard for me. Throughout my academic career in Worthington I was supported by amazing, caring and talented educators. Teachers and coaches such as Connie Ball, Bill Wolford, Mark Ellwood, Jan Fish, Chris Gallagher, Scott Gordon, Tim Cave, Janet Lanka, Time Dove and Jane Baxter scaffolded my learning and helped me progress. Even with their incredible support I graduated in the bottom half of my high school class.
Struggling academically shaped how I see education today. My personal experiences are melded now with almost 20 years of professional experience in education. Those experiences will continue to influence me as Superintendent of Schools. They’ve taught me the importance of connecting with others, communicating expectations clearly, providing effective feedback, listening first, and setting high expectations for student success.
Worthington Schools is a great school district! We are a school district that offers an incredible pre-school experience at Sutter Park. Sutter Park is an example statewide for early childhood excellence. Worthington is a district that creates stability and builds deep and meaningful relationships with families at our elementary schools that serve students in grades K-6. My three children will spend 13 cumulative years at one elementary school. The staff there is like our second family and this stability and personal relationship is a unique treasure in 2014.
When our students move to middle school they have incredible options. Within our traditional middle school programs we offer many more choice options for students than do our neighboring school districts. We also offer an alternative lottery-based middle school in Phoenix. Our high schools provide an array of choices. We pride ourselves in offering an incredible breadth of curricular and co-curricular options for our high school students. Likewise our Linworth Alternative program has been a benchmark in alternative education for almost 40 years.
Under Dr. Tucker’s leadership Worthington’s academic performance as measured by standardized tests has never been stronger. But we’re about so much more. We still value recess time for our elementary students and we take time out of each day for the arts and physical education. We’re a “both/and” school district. We won’t sacrifice what we believe is good for students in order to score a few points more on tests (that’s the “either/or” approach.)
As we move forward my commitment is that Worthington will continue to get better in every aspect of schooling. In a competitive marketplace people will choose Worthington Schools for their children not only because our offerings are second to none, and the quality and rigor of our offerings is outstanding, but they’ll choose Worthington because every member of our staff is committed to building a personal relationship with our families and is therefore committed to do whatever is necessary for our students to succeed.
In the near future I will meet with Dr. Tucker and the board of education and we will begin to map out the future. I anticipate the need to study our enrollment trends and our facilities. I’d like for us to engage our community in strategic planning to guide the next several years of our work. We’ll continue to be good stewards of the taxpayer’s money and we’ll work to make certain every dollar spent has a positive impact on students and the community.
Today I am totally and completely humbled. I stand upon the shoulders of the great educators who have made Worthington a special place. In particular my life has been touched by Anne Heffernan, Jeanne Paliotto, Paul Cynkar, Jim McElligott, Mark Glasbrenner, Melissa Conrath and Thomas Tucker. There are many others who have come before us and there will be many more in the future. I stand surrounded by a group of talented, caring, and committed administrators, teachers, and education support professionals. I love Worthington Schools! My goal everyday will be to give back to this community that has given me so much and to give forward to the next generation.
As we make daily strides we will do so For Worthington! Not for ourselves, but For Worthington. For the kids of Worthington! For the community of Worthington Schools. For those who have come before us in Worthington. For my neighbors whose kids have come and gone. I look forward to partnering with you to make Worthington the best school district in Ohio. FOR WORTHINGTON!
Trent H. Bowers, Ed.D.
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