Attending Obama address is teaching point for Durham educator

Posted January 20, 2012

— For a former history teacher, attending a presidential State of the Union address is the opportunity of a lifetime.

That opportunity comes next Tuesday for Jason Jowers, an assistant principal at Hillside High School in Durham. First District Congressman G.K. Butterfield invited him to be his guest in the gallery for President Barack Obama's speech on Capitol Hill.

Jowers said Friday that he was stunned when Butterfield's office extended the invitation a few weeks ago. "How does he know who I am, and why did he choose me out of everybody?" he said.

Butterfield said he was impressed with Jowers' work, which included being named 2011 Teacher of the Year in Durham Public Schools.

“President Obama has made education a top priority of his administration. Mr. Jowers, and educators like him, represent an integral piece of the plan to transform America’s education system into one of the best in the world,” Butterfield said in a statement.

Jowers, 26, taught at Southern High School for four years before moving to Hillside High last fall.

"I just wanted to be a good teacher. That's all. I just wanted to be a good teacher," he said, adding that he always felt his best lesson is his own life.

"A lot of the kids that I work with come from a similar type of environment that I grew up in," he said. "I watched a lot of my friends who didn't make the right decisions, I guess, that I did, and in some cases, I just got lucky."

Jason Jowers, an assistant principal at Hillside High School in Durham Hillside High administrator to attend State of Union

The power of decisions is something Jowers stresses daily at Hillside High, a school that a judge once threatened to shut down for poor student performance.

"Mr. Jowers is just, like, a good role model for us, and we look up to him a lot," freshman Dalephine Coffin said. "You can look up to him and know that, like, he tried, and this is what you get sometimes for your rewards in life."

Jowers said he plans to bring his experience in Washington, D.C., back to classrooms at Hillside High.

"I taught about the State of the Union. I taught about Congress and making laws and things of that nature, and so, it's right down my alley," he said.

Students said they've already learned something.

"Basically, you can do anything if you just try," freshman Ciara Castillo said.


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  • Shamrock Jan 23, 2012

    "BHO teaches socialism. NOT a teaching tool...wake up."


  • ncspamfish Jan 20, 2012

    were i invited to this thing (i know i wont be), i d have to refuse.

  • Alex25 Jan 20, 2012

    BHO teaches socialism. NOT a teaching tool...wake up.

  • darkhorse94 Jan 20, 2012

    Hopefully this years State of the Union Address is not used to undress the President's political opponents.(Unfortunately we know whats going to happen). I long for something to cheer about with this President. There have been very few instances in 3.5 years. From day one the President had no intention of working with Reps on issues, and he even boosted about it.(WE WON!) After the 2010 elections, he attempted to appear as a victim and a moderate willing to work with the opposition and when that approach didnt work, he is now "going it alone"!? Is that Hope? Is that the Change folks voted for? The dictator-ish role is not the strategy to win over the American people. Actually this presidency may make things worse for African_Americans, when it could have been so promising.

  • jblake1932 Jan 20, 2012

    I needed a good LAUGH and I just got one with this story!! Thanks WRAL and keep em coming.

  • vraptor Jan 20, 2012

    what low expectations. i would not have seeing anyone in my life as the best thing in my life no matter who it was. except maybe for jesus.

  • rmsmith Jan 20, 2012

    4 more years of the economic crisis situation we have been in with a deficit that is going thru the roof plus massive layoffs and the few people that find jobs are receiving only a fraction of their previous pay scale ? I do not think so ! Hopefully the voters clean house

  • boneymaroney13 Jan 20, 2012

    For a military person to speak that way about a commander in chief is disgraceful. Be he dem. or repub.

  • workingforthosethatwont Jan 20, 2012

    Is this story intended to be humorous? Cause I think it's a hoot.
    I'm sure he'll be teaching his students what a socialist o is.

  • brmyspots Jan 20, 2012

    That's funny luvabigdog. My husband used to say the same thing about Bush. That the mere sight of the guy would make bile rise up into his mouth. Then to add insult to injury, he'd have to salute him. He proudly salutes Obama though.