“When school started and the staff retreat happened, I was really excited,” Mrs. Renee Bowling said, on starting her new role as the Head of Upper Years.
One of the biggest reasons that Mrs. Bowling was happy to get the role was to have the “opportunity to bring stability to the Upper Years.”
It has just been a few weeks since Mrs. Bowling took over this position; however, she has already taken a lot of initiatives at the school such as the #WSrise campaign, something that Mrs. Bowling feels “strongly” about.
During assembly, Mrs. Bowling introduced the School Song Competition; it presented an opportunity for UY staff and student groups get to show school pride by presenting a compelling version of Shadows, the school’s alma mater, in a team.
Mr. Ethan VanDrunen feels that Mrs. Bowling is doing a “wonderful job” as the new Head of Upper Years. He further added, “The #WSrise campaign comes directly from Mrs. Bowling’s belief in the importance of encouragement, positive examples and service to others.
Not only that, but Mrs.Bowling has also taken into consideration of the fact that the teachers do not always notice good deeds done by the students. Therefore, students can now nominate other students for commendations when they see their peers do a good deed. The form to give out commendations is attached in the UY Bulletin every week and the commendations are approved by Homeroom Heads and dorm parents.
Mrs. Bowling said, “I believe that we are a pretty amazing place.” Through these initiatives, she hopes that we can “live up to that kind of reputation” that Woodstock has.
One of her most important goals for this year is to “make sure things run smoothly in Upper Years.”
Having been here for ten years, she knows how things work and is capable of solving problems particularly while looking “for a new principal and transitioning into International Baccalaureate (IB) program.”
Mrs. Bowling further expressed her excitement for her role. She also explained her desire to engage with new challenges, despite her love for college counseling.
“I loved college and career counseling but I was ready for something new. I had enjoyed being a part of the curriculum and the education team, and the academic and decision making, advocating for teachers and for students,” she said.
This made her realize that she wanted to do more of that, and being in an educational leadership position would enable her to do so.
When asked what Mrs. Bowling plans to do differently than past Heads of Upper Years, she said, “From now on, my focus is on borrowing what I thought was the best from my predecessors since I have had a chance to view a few people in this role.”
Mrs. Bowling’s approach to her new role is to “look for the good and go back and reintroduce those things.” She plans to continue the ideas that worked well.
Whether that’s making better use of the student resource center on the website or going back to the Monday night academic night study halls, bringing back small things that have helped “bring out the best of what’s happened before.”
Previously, Mrs. Bowling has also been a part of the Guiding Principles committee, which is a group of members to ensure that guiding principles are inculcated and “enfleshed” in the Woodstock community.
Part of being in a new role is facing new challenges that come along with it. Mrs. Bowling elaborated on some of the strategies that have helped her deal with problems. “One of the things that help me is realizing that I’m not gonna be perfect. I’m gonna be human and I don’t want to judge myself or anyone else too harshly. But I want to hold myself to a standard which means acknowledging when I make mistakes and being willing to learn as I go.”
Navya Sethi is an opinions editor for The Woodstocker
Edited by Hyenjin Cho
Photos courtesy of Knema Gardner