Whitney Bowerman was born and raised in northeast Spokane and is proud of her neighborhood and Rogers High School, where she graduated valedictorian in 2005. So proud that she continues to live and raise her family in the neighborhood, is married to another Rogers grad, and is now a science teacher and coach at Rogers HS. She gives back to her community in many ways, including participating in the current Shaw Campus action planning process, facilitated by The ZONE, and engaging students in their community by teaching a Leadership Class.
Growing up in the Nevada Heights area, Whitney didn’t know what her family didn’t have access to until later in life when she went off to college at Eastern Oregon University. Going to a place without the racial, ethnic, and economic diversity of northeast Spokane was a “kind of reverse culture shock,” she says.
Whitney’s father’s family are all Rogers HS graduates and expected her to work hard at school and sports so she could earn a college scholarship. Bowerman’s grandmother was a single mom of five. She always stressed the importance of education to her children and grandchildren and made sure to support their efforts, for instance walking over to attend all Whitney’s sports games at Garry Middle School. “To my grandmother, education was the pathway to opportunity,” says Whitney. “My parents told me school was my job.” Her family expected her to work hard at academics and sports during the school year and then take on jobs in the summer to earn money. “My family, especially my grandmother, said no one is going to give anything to you – you have to work hard for what you want,” Whitney explains. “What are YOU going to do?”
Whitney now takes that learned work ethic and transfers it to the students she supports at Rogers every day. “I push them to the edge of the cliff sometimes – outside their comfort zone,” she explains. Her goal is to build up students’ critical thinking skills so that when they leave high school they have the ability to solve problems and overcome challenges on their own.
Whitney honors the skills and experiences that her students already possess. “My job is to help show them how to hone those skills or understand how they can use these skills to thrive in the world,” she notes. She helps expose students to social protocols they may not have been encountered and connects students to free resources already available to them so they can be better prepared to navigate new places and spaces outside northeast Spokane and overcome systemic barriers.
When asked why she has taken a leadership role as a resident and teacher, she says, “I’m frustrated at perceptions that Hillyard isn’t a good place to raise a family. Connections are strong in this community and there are at least 30 staff and coaches at Rogers that graduated from here and are now teaching and giving back.”
Whitney Bowerman continues to ask the question, “What are YOU going to do?” She is challenging and inspiring a new generation of young northeast leaders to overcome obstacles, engage in community, and reach their full potential.