Michelle Juarez nominated Charlotte Bowden for Class Acts. Juarez said Bowden puts a huge emphasis on positive encouragement for her students. Bowden arrives early each day for students who arrive early, welcoming them into the classroom and offering help with questions on homework, Juarez said. Juarez credits Bowden as being the reason her son Trevor is loving school again.
• Name: Charlotte Bowden
• Age: 46
• City of residence: Riverbank
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• Occupation: Third-grade teacher, Rio Altura Elementary, Riverbank
• Family: Husband, Chris Bowden, a painting contractor; son Matthew, attends Humphreys College and works at Petco in Riverbank; son Ryan, a senior at Riverbank High School
• Education background: I graduated from Riverbank High School in 1981. I attended Modesto Junior College and Chapman University.
• Teaching experience: Riverbank Unified School District for six years; second, third and fourth grades
Why did you get into teaching? I worked at Procter & Gamble for 17 years and loved my job. I was sitting in church one Sunday morning and God spoke to me and told me that I was going to be a teacher. I just ignored it, but two weeks later Procter & Gamble announced that our plant was shutting down. So I decided to be a teacher, and I love it.
What is your favorite thing about being a teacher? I like working with kids and watching them learn and grow.
What is the most challenging part of your job? The most challenging part of my job is realizing that some things are out of my control. Sometimes I cannot help a child completely because I cannot control what goes on in their homes.
What is the most important lesson you've learned? I have learned to never give up on a student. Sometimes it is very frustrating because I work really hard trying to help a student and I feel like it didn't make a difference, and then I find out later that I really did make a difference.
What is your favorite teaching tool or activity? I love teaching Reading Mastery. Reading Mastery is a scripted Direct Instruction program that teaches students how to read. I have watched many students that have struggled with reading make huge improvements using this program.
What's next in your classroom? We are learning our multiplication facts and we are getting very excited about moving into our new school (Mesa Verde Elementary) that will be completed in December. We will move into our new school over the Christmas break.
What advice do you have for students? Always believe that you can do all things and never give up.
What advice do you have for parents? Try to be as involved as you possibly can in your child's life and education because they grow up fast and you cannot get those years back.
What will it take to improve academic success in the valley? We need to find a way to work through the language barriers.
How do you try to reach students not interested in school? I try to find something the student is interested in and relate what I am teaching to their interests.
What one area should schools put more emphasis on? I would like to see more emphasis put on school spirit and school pride.
If you could change one thing about the current educational system, what would it be and why? I think there is too much emphasis put on testing, and I think we should focus more on teaching students things that will help them be successful in real life.
What would surprise people about your job? I think the thing that would surprise people the most about teachers' jobs is that when we get home our jobs are not over. We are always thinking about our students, grading papers, or planning our next lesson.
What are your future plans? I plan to continue teaching and watching my students as they progress through the great Riverbank Unified School District.