A student returns to Jeremy Ranch, this time as the teacher
September 13, 2016
The memories are still vivid for Allie Bowers. When she was a child, she remembers, she would walk up the street to her grandmother's house to play, and her imagination would run wild. She would pretend that she was one of her heroes.
"I always wanted to be just like my teachers," she said.
Years later, when it was time to choose a college major, Bowers was uncertain about what career to pursue. But her mind began drifting back to those times at her grandmother's house, and she was struck by a stark reality. It was so obvious.
She should become a teacher.
"I thought, 'If I'm going to do something every day, I should enjoy it,'" she said. "I jumped right in."
Now, Bowers is living out her childhood fantasy. Last month, she began her first year as a kindergarten teacher at Jeremy Ranch Elementary School. And she did so with a rare distinction: She is believed to be the first person to attend the school all the way through, from kindergarten to fifth grade, to come back as a teacher.
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She said returning to the place where she first developed a love of learning is an unusual experience, one it took her a few weeks to get used to. Every hallway is a memory. Walking into her classroom each day evokes a wave of nostalgia. And then there's this: Some of her former teachers are now her colleagues.
"It's really weird, I'll be honest," she said. "It's pretty funny to see my old teachers as coworkers now instead of just my teachers. But it's really great. It's different coming back to the building on the other side, but I've loved it."
Bowers is beginning her career with high ambitions. Her teachers left a lasting mark on her life, and she hopes to do the same for her students. The opportunity to do that, she said, is the biggest reason why she's passionate about teaching.
"One of the biggest things I remember about my teachers is that they all were just so kind, positive and calm," she said. "Looking back on being a student, I loved the idea of going to school and having someone I could look up to. And a lot of kids don't necessarily have that. I did — I have a great family — but every student can use all the support. I remember being excited to go to school because I had a teacher I really liked.
"It's great knowing you have the power to make a difference," she added. "You don't ever really realize it until you're doing it."
Apart from creating those kinds of bonds with students, Bowers is eager to see them flourish in the classroom. She said kindergarten can help students develop a love of learning and can help determine their educational futures. Her goal is to see every student leave her class with a bright future ahead.
And who knows? Maybe she will inspire one of them to become a teacher.
"I love seeing kids grow," she said. "Especially in the younger grades because they grow a lot in all areas — socially and academically. Seeing that 'aha' moment in a kid's eyes — because you can totally see it — is an awesome feeling. I love teaching them how to be people."