After completing 43 years in education, teaching, serving as Dean of students and coaching, Richard Bowers retired in 1998. “That was many years ago,” said Coach Bowers. “I thought I was through…done…going to spend time with family…help more in the church. But, I missed those kids. I felt that I still had something to offer them. So 8 years ago, with support from the DeSoto County Education Foundation, I started back working with some of these kids in the afternoon. Not just helping with homework and studies, but being there and talking with them about life, what is important in life and about doing the right thing.”
The RCMA (Redlands Christian Migrant Association) Room, which is adjacent the Smith-Brown Gymnasium, houses the tutoring program after school where Coach Bowers works is minimal. By some standards, some may say even say, inadequate. But to Coach Bowers and the students that are there after school, it is a special place. “I come here because I know that somebody is here for me and wants me to do good in life,” said Joshua Daley, a 6th grader who has been attending for two years. “That’s what makes me keep coming back and I want to do better in my school work.”
Research shows that students who participate after school programs have higher rates of school attendance, lower dropout rates and improved attitudes toward school (U.S. News and World Report). These programs can be a successful dropout prevention tool because they address three key indicators of students’ success: attendance, behavior and course completion. “I come here and stay out of trouble”, said Travis Watson an 8th at DeSoto Middle School. “And I make sure I do the right thing,” he said with a smile.
During these 8 years, Coach Bowers has had many success stories. Some we know about, some we don’t. However, a recent graduate talked about the impact the program had on his life. ”My sister used to go this program and I would walk home from school with her, “ said Latrevious”Trey” Jennings a 2014 DHS graduate. “ I asked Coach Bowers if I could come also. He told me to come back and talk with him. I was in the 6th grade at that time and I stayed in the program for 6 years. Coach Bowers made a huge impact on my life. He taught me that if I wanted something, I had to go after it and work for it. He made me want to achieve and I realized that I needed to work hard to get there.” Trevious was President of the Senior Class of 2014, President of Interact, Treasurer of FFA and in the Top 10% of his class. In addition, he was a Take Stock in Children recipient and was awarded approximately $50,000 in scholarships his senior year. He is currently attending FSW and will be transferring to Florida Gulf Coast and majoring in Business Administration. “He was a very inspirational part of my life and the lives of the other students. He always accepted everyone as they were. Even the kids that maybe weren’t doing the right thing all the time, he saw the best in them and everyone who was in his program.”
“The DeSoto County Education Foundation is proud of the many programs and projects which we offer the students in DeSoto County Schools,” said Markey, Executive Director of DCEF. “Coach Bowers is a pillar in our community and we are pleased to be able to offer this program and to help many youngsters. We credit UNITED WAY for their support which has allowed us to keep continuing this program. We also solicit help from the community to keep this and our other programs active through financial support and volunteer service.”
Contact the Executive Director at Director@DeSotoEducationFoundation.com for information about ways you can help.