Carver alumnus named state’s top assistant principal

Carver alumnus named  state’s top assistant principal
January 08
00:00 2015
(Above: Photo by Kenneth Branson, Mastermind Productions Jason Jowers is presented with the award by Shirley Arlington of the North Carolina Principals/Assistant Principals Association and Hillside Principal William Logan.)

A Winston-Salem native is showing he has what it takes to make a difference in children’s lives.

Jason Jowers, an assistant principal at Hillside High School in Durham, has been named the 2015 North Carolina Assistant Principal of the Year by the state’s Association of Principals and Assistant Principals.

Jowers, a 2003 Carver High School graduate, said he wasn’t expecting the honor and was taken by surprise when he received it.

“It’s surreal,” the 29-year-old said via telephone. “To receive this award before I’m 30 years old is surreal. I’m going to continue to push myself because there is still work to be done.”

Jowers will go on to represent the state in the national Assistant Principal of the Year contest sponsored by the National Association of Secondary Schools Principals. Like its state counterpart, the national honor recognizes outstanding middle level and high school assistant principals who have demonstrated success in leadership, curriculum and personalization.

Ironically, Jowers didn’t set out to be an educator. He entered the field only so his parents, Winston-Salem residents John and Malinda Jowers, wouldn’t be burdened with paying his way through college. He had an epiphany as a Carver freshman when he attended the Awards Day ceremony for seniors.

“There, they announced all of the scholarships that were received. One guy got a lot of scholarship money but one of those scholarships was a Teacher’s Fellow worth $26,000,” Jowers recalled. “Everyone cheered and went crazy. and I can remember thinking that I was going to be that guy when I was a senior.”

After researching the teaching fellow, he discovered that those who received it had to commit to four years of teaching.

“At that time, I wanted to major in physics because I wanted to be an astronomer. My thoughts were that if I got the scholarship, I would go to college, teach physics for four years, and then go back to get my P.h.D and work for NASA,” he explained.

His goals – and major – changed when he became a student-athlete at North Carolina Central University. His demanding football schedule led him to switch to a history major. That then led him to working in the Durham school system. The rest is what Jowers calls history.

“I felt like this was what I needed to do. Once I got in the classroom, there was no turning back from there,” said Jowers, who earned a Master of School Administration degree from UNC Chapel Hill in 2011.

He took a job teaching history at the Southern School of Engineering in Durham after graduating in 2007. His knack for teaching was evident to all. In 2011, he was named Durham Public Schools’ Teacher of the Year – an honor that also took Jowers by surprise.

“People were coming by my room all day and congratulating me, so I finally asked why,” he said.

Soon after winning the honor, he was invited by U.S. Rep G.K. Butterfield, a Democrat who represent’s N.C.’s 1st District, to the Capitol to watch President Obama give the State of the Union address.

Jowers said he has always had a great team to help him be successful.

“I was fortunate to be able to work with a lot of great teachers and a great principal that gave me a lot of flexibility to do what I wanted in the classroom.”

That principal was Travis Taylor, who last fall accepted the principalship at Jowers’ alma mater – Carver High.

“He had a gift for connecting with students and getting them to want to learn for him,” Taylor said of Jowers. “I saw students bend over backwards for him on a level I hadn’t seen in my experience as an administrator or a teacher. They wanted to make sure they pleased him and did their very best, which is a testament to the way he connects with the students and those he works with.”

Taylor thinks Jowers could very well win at the national level.

“This is a carryover from his experience as an excellent teacher. He has been able to transition those skills to be an excellent administrator as well,” Taylor said of his Alpha Phi Alpha brother. “I’m not surprised at all that he was able to achieve this honor and I know that from here he will be able to achieve greater things.”

Durham Public Schools Superintendent Bert L’Homme called Jowers a leader of students, teachers and staff.

“We’re are proud to have him on the leadership team at Hillside High and are rooting for him as he competes at the national level,” L’Homme said in a media release.

Jowers said that he just wants to touch lives.

“I watched a lot of people that looked like me not make it. Now, I’m working with a lot of kids that look like me and a lot of them are on the fence – they can go either way. So to play a vital role in their lives and watch a lot of them be successful, is very rewarding,” he said.

Jowers calls his high school diploma from Carver High an award that was the catalyst for his success. He calls his time there one of the greatest experiences of his life.

“There, I built the capacity I have now to be resilient in whatever adversity I face,” he said. “I was able to take a course load that prepared me for what I would need to do to be successful when I got to college, started teaching, became an assistant principal and while I work on my doctorate.”

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Chanel Davis

Chanel Davis

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