Administrator of the Year: Providing for the whole child

July 27, 2018 Staff Writer

David Bowling believes education is about providing “services for the whole child.” As assistant superintendent, Curriculum and Instruction for Wasco Union Elementary School District, he leads with thoughtfulness, integrity and a whole-hearted dedication to this belief.

For his exceptional leadership and his commitment to student success, Bowling has been recognized as ACSA’s 2018 Curriculum and Instruction Administrator of the Year.

As the son of an elementary teacher in Eaton, OH, who put herself through night school, Bowling’s interest in education began early on.

“My mother’s commitment to becoming an educator and her evident passion for the work, allowed me to see for myself what public service was all about,” he said. “The meager wage she earned in exchange for the days and hours of uncompensated time taught me that it takes more than money to enrich your life.”

Bowling’s work in administration began as the vice principal and then principal of a middle school in Arvin, a small town in the Central Valley.

“My experiences in Arvin, a town with many disadvantaged children and families, truly changed my perspective of the profession,” he said. “It didn’t take long to understand how important the role of an administrator is to students, families and teachers. Adolescent transitional growth as a young adult must include positive social interactions and a school with an academic culture. The school must offer deep personal relationships with every individual in a child’s circle of support.

“In small communities with extreme poverty and high English learner populations, parents need to know that you care about them and their circumstances personally and that you will offer them the time to work toward solutions,” he said. “Only through listening and not reacting; holding optimism, not pessimism; supporting service and not neglecting, can close personal connections be made in these circumstances.”

Bowling accepted a position at Wasco Union ESD in 2018. Wasco is another small community with high numbers of low-socioeconomic students and English learners, requiring that educators be both innovative and proactive in responding to the issues their students face.

“The topic of ‘Empowering Innovative Leadership’ as this year’s Leadership Summit theme resonates strongly with me,” Bowling said. “Innovative leadership requires school administrators to be forward thinking and to use data to anticipate the needs, trends, and patterns of how students think and learn. Innovative leaders know that the economic engine of our county will continue to evolve, and we must meet students where they are to provide them with the skills they will need to navigate an extraordinarily dynamic and shifting workforce.

“Education cannot afford to be 20 years behind the curve any longer.”

This is represented by many of the initiatives Bowling has led in Wasco Union, including one that allows 20 percent of the teaching staff to gain an Added Authorization in Reading and Literacy on the California teaching credential.

“One hundred percent of students have access to their own classroom Chromebook and 100 percent of teachers are trained in integrating lessons using Google Classroom and other online resources to supplement core instruction,” he said.

Bowling has appreciated the value of his ACSA membership, joining in 1998 and becoming a strong leader in Region 11 over the past two decades.

“My involvement with the organization began as a social opportunity and quickly evolved into the realization that most everyone in the room had the same struggles and barriers at their school sites as did mine,” he said. “Before long, networking turned to friendships and confidants in what can be a very lonely profession. ACSA provides me with the job-alike connections and all the tools I need to build my professional skills.

“My greatest accomplishments have come from [my] relationships, and hearing of student success stories makes my journey in education worth every ounce of my efforts,” he said.

For those he has taught, mentored, supervised, collaborated with and influenced in his 25 years in education, Bowling’s positive impact will last long into the future.

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