Jerry Bowman was admitted to the hospital one day, when the nurse taking care of him said she knew him. Unbeknownst to him, he had saved her life. She was once his former student and she remembers he took her phone away in class so she would pay attention.
He said she told him she was passenger in her friend’s car, when they ran head on into another vehicle.
“She was dead for five minutes,” Bowman said, recalling the conversation.
He asked her if she was wearing her seat belt, and she told him ‘yes, because that is what he taught her in her driver’s ed class.’”
“It’s affirmation that what I did was worthwhile,” Bowman said.
He was one of three retired Johnston County Schools teachers honored in a ceremony Thursday night as a “Living Legend.” The title is given to teachers who significantly influenced education during their tenure as teachers.
Christabelle Watson Harlee, who taught first, second and third grades in Johnston County for 32 years, and Charles F. Wilson, a biology teacher who taught in the school system for 55 years, were also honored.
Anyone can nominate a Living Legend. A committee selects three each year to be chosen as winners.
“We’re just trying to say thank you for those people, for what they’ve done in the past,” Ross Renfrow, Johnston County Schools superintendent, said.
Harlee was the teacher who was willing to stick to her fervent desire to help each student succeed no matter what, Renfrow told the crowd. Her lessons were made plain for students to understand her diverse methods used for clarity. Many parents requested that their child be placed in in her classroom.
“It’s a great honor because you never really know who’s watching,” Harlee said. “It’s great to know that people think of you in that way.”
Her advice to teachers was to establish a good working relationship with the child and parents and be a good listener and communicator. She recommends choosing words and the tone of your voice carefully, because children imitate what they see.
She said to respect children, parents and yourself and you will be respected.
Wilson was described as “Mr. Practicality.” He used “the inquiry approach for gaining historical information.” He taught in the classroom for 38 years and worked part time for 15 more.
His advice to teachers is to start the year fair friendly and firm, and that is the way it will be in May.
“Never back a student into a corner,” he says. “He will come out fighting. Leave him an outlet without embarrassing him.” He also says to never call a student a kid, and “treat each child with respect and you will gain his respect.”
Bowman was a social studies teachers for 32 years and then part-time driver’s education teacher for 10 more. He encouraged his students to understand the relevancy of the curriculum to the development of good citizenship.
Bowman said don’t treat the child “fair,” treat them special, because if you treat each child fair, you’re giving them a little more than a minute of your time. But when you treat them special, and they have a problem, you take care of it, he said.