Not many first graders sit down and seriously contemplate possible career options, unless you consider Spider-Man, Superman, or Batman to be career options. And most wouldn’t comprehend the role school plays in relation to a career. Bryan Bowles, however, was the exception.
After teaching his younger sister how to read and write while he himself was still in the first grade, Bowles discovered his love of teaching and decided to pursue a career in education. This fall, he accepted an associate clinical professor position at the David O. McKay School of Education.
“There’s magic in teaching,” said Bowles. “There’s nothing more noble, rewarding, or satisfying than teaching someone a practice that will benefit their life. Education gives people choices, and choices bring opportunities.”
Bowles spent the most recent 13 years of his career as superintendent of the Davis School District, the second largest district in the state of Utah. Without a classroom of his own, Bowles itched for opportunities to teach. He would frequently substitute for any grade level in his district. He would even put the names of the teachers in his district into a hat, and whoever’s name he drew would receive a paid day off while Bowles taught their class. He wouldn’t need their curriculum because he kept boxes of lesson plans for each grade in his office, ready to teach.
His abilities as an administrator were tested during the 2008–2009 economic recession, which docked the district’s budget by $80 million for all of their current services while still requiring them to accommodate a surplus of students.
“That was a time when our funding for the next year was just enough to maintain our existing programs, and we were adding new schools and 500 to 1,000 new students annually,” Bowels said. “We had to be creative; the good thing is nobody had to lose their job.”
Despite those challenging times, the district currently has a graduation rate of 93 percent, one of the highest in Utah. According to the AP District Honor Roll, it is one of five in North America that has maintained its position on the national AP honor roll every year since it began six years ago. The honor roll recognizes districts that “simultaneously achieved increases in access to Advanced Placement courses for broader number of students and also maintained or improved the rate at which their AP students earned scores of 3 (out of 5) or higher on an AP exam.”
Bowles graduated from the University of Utah in three years, earning degrees in speech communication and theater, and he began teaching at age 21. After teaching for one term in Monticello, Utah, he returned to Bountiful High School where he taught theater for 10 years. He also was a director at the Temple View Theater, previously located on the property that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints office building now occupies.
Later, Bowles was approached by the director of the Polynesian Cultural Center, who was impressed with Bowles’ directing abilities and he offered him the vice president position at the Laie, Hawaii Polynesian Cultural Center, which Bowles accepted.
Soon after moving to Hawaii, Bowles married his then-girlfriend Joan, and he continued to direct shows at the cultural center for the next seven years. In addition to directing, he also taught Book of Mormon and Teachings of the Living Prophets classes at BYU–Hawaii. On top of all his teaching and directing responsibilities, he and his wife added two boys to their family. Although Hawaii was fun, he wanted to be around more family.
“We loved Hawaii,” said Bowles. “But we wanted our boys to know their extended family. So we decided to move back to Utah.”
After accepting a job with Shipley Associates as a communications consultant, they returned to Utah.
He began traveling around the country consulting with companies on their writing and presenting. But while he was on a consulting trip to the US West Training Center, he decided he wanted to return to the classroom.
“While in Englewood, Colorado, I thought, ‘I’m working with these guys for three days, and I’m not sure I’m making a difference in their lives at all,” said Bowles. “That’s not why I went into education. I wanted to see growth and change and help others do something in their lives. So I came back and applied to a school district.”
He taught in the Davis School District and worked part time and continued to work for Shipley Associates part time for 13 years. Later, he discontinued work for Shipley to become a junior high principal. Later he worked as curriculum director, principal of Bountiful High School, and superintendent of Davis School District.
“While away from education I was an instructor and leader,” said Bowles. “I was able to influence many people, and I loved that. I found that I could teach and be a leader at the same time.”
After being the superintendent of Davis School District for 13 years, Bowles came to the David O. McKay School of Education as an associate clinical professor.
Bowles brings recent experience of being a superintendent from the field to BYU.
“Everyone in this department has really great experience,” Bowles said. “They aren’t detached from the work field at all. I bring recent experience of being a superintendent that I hope will benefit the department and students. Students who come to school here really have a great advantage because they’re getting professors who come from a variety of perspectives. To come to BYU is honestly a great adventure.”
The advice he would give to prospective principals is to become aware of the school’s needs before changing things.
Bowles has been married to his wife, Joan, for 26 years, and they have five children, one of whom is currently a BYU student studying film.
Finding Your Calling
While working as a secretary to the Church Education System director in Wisconsin, Michele Price felt in her a sense of “calling” that motivated her to seek out more career opportunities in the field of education.
Price worked in the Center for Language Studies for five years, and was later hired to start up the new BYU Language Certificate Program.
Last year she coordinated the federally funded Chinese Flagship program here at BYU, and she was recently hired as the department secretary for the Education Leadership Foundations Department.
“I’m looking forward to working with people who value the education of others, young and not-so-young alike,” said Price. “While ‘life-long learner’ is probably a buzz word that may be overused, it aptly describes people who work in the McKay School. I believe I shall make many friends here.”
In her personal life, Price enjoys being a mother and grandmother.
“Being a mother is how to learn about loving and serving others,” said Price. “Being a grandmother is much more about getting hugs and wet kisses from little angels without bathing, feeding, changing, doing their laundry, and picking up after them—it almost feels like cheating.”
Michele Price is from Oak Creek, Wisconsin, which is a suburb of Milwaukee.
Price is married to Keith Price, and they have three children and three grandchildren.
Writer: Jake Taylor
Contact: Cindy Glad (801) 422-1922