2020 Pitcher Elementary Teacher of the Year

Felicia Bowles


Felicia Bowles
Pitcher Elementary School
Third Grade

What factors influenced your decision to become a teacher? Identify what you consider to be your greatest contributions to and accomplishments in education.
I love teaching and cannot think of anything else I would rather do. Teaching children is not only my job; it is my passion and mission in life. Since the fifth grade, I have always known I would be a teacher. Ms. Logan, my fifth-grade teacher, inspired me. She treated her students as individuals. She cared about us and wanted us all to succeed, not just academically, but also personally. Learning was exciting in Ms. Logan’s classroom. Her lessons were engaging, and she connected content and projects to the real world. Essentially, Ms. Logan brought learning to life for me.

During my undergrad and student teaching, I knew that I wanted to work in a high need school. I have taught my entire career in Title 1 schools. Working at my current school in KCPS has been a dream come true. Every day I encounter new challenges. I have had many days of self-reflection, asking myself how I can do more for my students.

My first year of teaching was in a Title 1 school in Omaha. During that year, my passion and mission for teaching truly came together. As Ms. Logan did for me, I strive to instill a love of learning in my students. She was a positive role model, and she taught me not only to see each student as s/he is but as the person they can become. Ms. Logan taught from her heart. I believe I also teach from my heart. I will never forget her, not only for the lessons she taught me, and for the way she made me feel, but also for the inspiration she provided. I respected and admired her. My greatest gift would be to know that my students respect, admire and are inspired by me as they develop a lifelong passion for learning.

Every student can learn and grow. They all have great potential. My mission is to help them to see their potential and provide them with opportunities to work towards achieving it. We do not enter this profession for ourselves; we do it for the children. Every morning as I greet each child who walks through my door, I commit to their learning; they each deserve an exemplary learning experience. No matter what school or circumstances they have just come from, as a teacher, I have the power to change their lives daily, just as Ms. Logan did, just as all teachers are doing every day.

My greatest contribution to and accomplishments in education would include how I form relationships with my students. Showing them how much I care and want to help them find their dreams and strengths so they can believe in themselves the way I believe in them is paramount. My students know I am always on their team, I support them and I will never give up on them. When students know this, they are inspired to try harder and strive for success. Students walk into my classroom reading at a first or second-grade level, and by the end of the year, they can independently read and comprehend third grade-level text. I help them acquire the skills they need to do this and more, so they can be successful in school and life. By showing them how to be resilient and work hard, and by promoting student success, it helps the students see a brighter future and to realize their full potential.

Like Ms. Logan, I believe that teachers make positive differences in the lives of students. I work hard to educate my students, as well as elevate their hearts by teaching them to care and show kindness by being a role model and setting a good example. Every student does learn and grow. They all have great potential. My mission is to help them see their potential and provide them with the opportunity to be successful and happy.

I care about my students’ academic, personal, and emotional growth. I teach reading after school to fifth and sixth-grade students who are reading below grade level. I strive to have a positive impact on all students by being their advocate. I believe in an individualized, personalized approach that enables students to be the best they can be by believing in themselves, working hard and being successful in school. My hope is that as a teacher, I will have a positive impact on students’ lives, improve their futures and make our school and community a better place for all of us to learn and live.

Describe a project or initiative that you have led or been involved with that contributed to increasing equity in education and opportunity for students in your school. What was your role in this project and what was the impact?

My initiative has been to improve student achievement and school success for all students by working in collaboration with my colleagues to provide a positive school culture and implement a rigorous academic program.

My current school was a SIG school with academic performance at the lowest 5% in the state. I have been a part of that turnaround. The school environment was a significant factor affecting our students’ achievement. One of my goals was to work collaboratively with teachers to re-create the PBIS program. Since I had been implementing my own behavior system within my classroom based on PBIS with great success, I initiated the formation of a committee to make some changes at our school. We looked at different areas of the building that were struggling, for example, the cafeteria. We set clear expectations, added a positive incentive, and modeled what PBIS should truly look like. Since then, the program has grown immensely with monthly PBIS celebrations, Students of the Month, Eagle Bucks rewards, a school store and best of all, excited students. Students are held accountable for their actions, are responsible for keeping track of their Eagle Bucks. As a result, day-to-day behavior has improved.

Because of my work in collaboration with my colleagues, we have created a more positive school culture and climate. This has resulted in stronger relationships between teachers and students, which is vital to student success. Our school’s atmosphere is such that the students know they are valued, cared for and loved. Students feel connected to their peers, teachers and the school. I believe my initiative and a resulting collaboration with colleagues made a significant impact on the school climate and culture, which is now more organized, purposeful, and conducive to learning. There is a genuine feeling of family. Our new PBIS committee has contributed to the improvement of our overall school culture and climate. Our school provides a well-managed, warm, caring and supportive environment focused on individual students’ academic, social and emotional needs. Because the classroom and school culture have become more positive with a stronger commitment to learning by students and adults, this has subsequently led to the increased time spent on learning, and ultimately greater student achievement.

I am committed to providing equitable, high-quality learning experiences and opportunities to my students. High expectations are the norm. I have a diverse classroom, which includes students of all backgrounds and abilities: students with IEPS, ELL students and students with other social & emotional issues. In collaboration with other professionals, I helped create a plan to accommodate those students’ needs to help them be successful. By setting learning goals, my students develop a growth mindset. They can see the results. They learn that goals can be achieved with hard work and perseverance. Educational equity is about ensuring every student is provided an equal opportunity. I work hard to ensure opportunities that will lead all of my students to reach their full potential at school, as well as later in life.

My initiative to improve the school environment and, subsequently, student achievement has contributed to increasing equity in education and opportunity for students. This is evident in the performance data of the third grade. Student achievement for 3rd grade has increased tremendously due to my implementation of a rigorous academic program. Evidence of this can be seen in our performance data. Classroom practices have resulted in high levels of growth and learning for all students in my classroom. Each year upon entering third grade, many of my students are one or two grade levels behind and have large gaps in their learning. Because of this, I work diligently to advance my students beyond one year’s growth. My instruction is individualized and personalized. I set high expectations and implement needed supports for struggling students. My classroom practices have resulted in significant academic growth and learning for my students, as evidenced by NWEA and i-Ready growth assessments.