2007-04-12 / Scene

Plenty of riches ...

Bill Kernan editor@laview.net

I had the pleasant opportunity to talk with Terry Bowerman recently. I also took the opportunity to listen to this man who is much more than the retired teacher he admits to being. He also is kind, generous, interesting, informative, patient, industrious and an eager participant in the affairs of our community and nation. I suppose one simple statement can tell a great deal more about his accomplishments than I can recount here.

Mr. Bowerman is the recipient of the cherished Edgar A. Guest Award.
He also is an active member of the Lions Club working at local and statewide activities.
In addition, he also is active in both Rotary and Optimist programs designed to help those who are less fortunate.

Terry came from the good farm life and was fortunate enough to be attracted to the twin vocations of agriculture and education. His mother, Myrtie Bowerman, served 44 years as a teacher of English and history. While attending Michigan State University he decided to embrace the two vocations and became a vital force teaching at the Vo Tech Center in Attica. He became both teacher and student when two of his adult students invited him to a Lions Club meeting. It was there that he discovered the need and joy of volunteering.

“An underlying aim of education stretches far beyond the confines of subjects taught in a classroom,” stated Mr. Bowerman, “but the richness comes from leading kids to become meaningful parts of society.”

He went on, “The richness of being a teacher does not come from a six-figure income, but from helping students move from the unknown to the known, by developing and exercising the powers of the mind. The devastating attempt by students to answer challenging questions with “I dunno,” must always be unacceptable by the teacher.

“When asked how ‘you would do it?’ The teacher must respond, ‘NO! How will YOU do it?’ You must THINK! Understand that there are alternatives.” Then pry it out when there is no response. Massage it. Bring it out, letting it be realized that there are many different ways to do things. Use the mind, struggle for an answer then check with the teacher. A systematic approach to problems will provide solutions. “Rewards for both student and teacher fill the air when the lights are turned on and new thoughts provide a clear focus for future successful actions.”

He added, “In working with the Future Farmers of America it soon becomes clear that only two percent of the students actually go into farming for their life’s work. It becomes essential to teach leadership to our students that will carry them through the rigors of alternative careers.

We must all be taught to accept change. It must be taught and also learned. I learned a great deal from an inspiring high school teacher, Mr. Ed Strong, that there are many ways to have fun while teaching and learning. He understood the difference between severe discipline and permissiveness. He also understood the sad truth that you could not win them all, but the winning lasted a lifetime.

In coming to grips with change, we must come to understand its benefits as well as the adjustments that must be undertaken. With the continuing study of genetics, we have gained monumental advances allowing beneficial development of our livestock, crops, machinery and markets. By entering the immense global market as well as finding new uses for our products, we should be able keep our thinking farmers home on the farm even after being to Paris and Berlin.

Mr. Bowerman’s advice to those considering a career in education: “If you don’t like people, look elsewhere. If you love them, jump right in. The ride may be bumpy, but you will never forget it ... nor will you ever be forgotten.”

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