Carolyn Bowman admits she never set out to have a teaching career, especially one that lasted for 30 years, but it just sort of happened that way. She did end up finding it very rewarding, and since then has continued her own education. She has also been a strong advocate for promoting education and equity for all women and girls, and both of those have factored into her being named as this year’s Woman of the Year by the Clarion branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW).
“There are so many very deserving women in our community, that have done more than I have, so I am honored and humbled to be chosen,” said Bowman. She has been a member of at least 20 years, and thinks she joined in the early 90’s. “It’s been a part of my activities for a long time,” said Bowman.
This year’s honoree grew up on a farm south of Holmes, with two sisters and a brother as her siblings. From kindergarten through 6th grade, she was the only student in her class at the one-room schoolhouse located a half-mile from their farm. “I loved school, and always knew I wanted to attend college,” said Bowman. What she found out was that she would have only a few paths to take after graduating from Clarion High School.
“I could be a secretary, nurse or teacher, or could get married and be a stay at home mom,” said Bowman. “That was about it at the time. Now many more paths are open to young women. In fact, I’m the only one in my family to obtain a college degree.” She recalls that it was very important to her parents that their kids continue their education. “I give them the credit,” said Bowman. “They had expectations for us, but I’m glad they pushed me. We’ve done that now with our children too.” In her youth, she was also active in 4-H, Rainbow Girls, MYF and school clubs, and also held many offices in the clubs she participated in.
She graduated from UNI, majoring in Vocational Home Economics with an emphasis in Science. Carolyn then married Dennis Bowman, and they lived in Altoona, Gilmore City and Lake City where she took substitute teaching positions in each of those communities. “I learned how to be organized and have discipline standards,” said Bowman. Upon returning to Clarion in 1973, Carolyn and Dennis owned and operated the A &W Drive-In until 1977. After that, Carolyn began teaching in the Kanawha Community School system in 1977. “My first assignment was teaching Home Ec and Math,” said Bowman. “Junior High Social Studies, Science and Health were added later. They needed a temporary Home Ec teacher, but then offered me a fulltime position. I had three little kids at home, and wanted to be a stay at home mom. I said I would stay for two years, but ended up staying for 30.”
Read more in the March 6 issue of the Monitor, along with a story about the Clarion AAUW’s screening of the film “Miss Representation,” about women’s under-representation in media.