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Teaching Texas History Comes Naturally for COE Alum

Catherine Bartlett

For COE Alum Susie Bowers, teaching Texas history is personal.

As  a seventh grade teacher at Boerne Middle School North, in Boerne Texas (approximately 32 miles northwest of San Antonio), Bowers is the 2013 recipient of the Linden Heck Howell Outstanding Teaching of Texas History Award.   She was recognized in a campus ceremony Thursday, Nov. 7, that included a presentation by Rep. Lamar Smith and Humanities Texas executive director Michael Gillette.

Bowers, who has taught at Middle School North for seven years, comes by her passion for Texas history naturally.  Or perhaps genetically.  The seventh-generation, Houston-born Texan is related to Gen. Ben McCulloch, a contemporary of Davy Crockett and a hero of the Battle of San Jacinto.

“I loved Texas history as a student,” Bowers remembers.  “I had great history teachers who inspired me.  Also, my father encouraged the love of history in me.

“Today, I get the greatest professional fulfillment when I am able to make history come alive for my students.  I like having lessons that connect history to present day.  Living in the Hill Country is perfect for that because the Boerne area has such a history of the German settlers, Native Americans, and the hardships that the early settlers endured.”

Bowers graduated with a B.S. in Education from Texas State University and earned a M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction from the UH College of Education in 1983.  She has taught in Texas public schools for 32 years. 

“The element I find most intriguing about Texas history is the history of its people.  The early settlers had different backgrounds, were from various countries, and possessed such diverse personalities, yet all of them strived for one common goal.”

Throughout her teaching career, Bowers’ goal has been to make history relevant for her students.

“Last year, one of my students invited me and my husband to his family farm on Sisterdale Highway.  He and his family showed us the old family home where his grandfather currently lived.  They showed us where his ancestors hid in the house from the Comanches.  There was even a bullet hole in the ceiling!”

Bowers was nominated for the Howell award by a former teaching colleague from Houston, Dr. Charlene Gibert.  The Linden Heck Howell Outstanding Teaching of Texas History Award was established by Humanities Texas in memory of the late Ms. Howell, who served as chair of the state humanities council board of directors.  The award serves as a tribute to her service to the organization and her commitment to the study of Texas history. As the award recipient, Bowers received a $5,000 cash award, with an additional $500 going to Middle School North to purchase instructional materials supporting Texas history.

- David Boggan
  Director of Communications
  Boerne Independent School District