December 2, 2022 -- “Is there anything that you need or anything I can help you with?” Those are not questions adults are used to hearing. But they are questions parents and guardians at Johnson Park Middle School get when receiving a call from Cheri Bowman.
Bowman is the Family Ambassador walking around the building, talking with students about anything on their minds, and connecting with parents to ensure they know how students perform in the school. While it’s her first year in the position, she’s no stranger to Columbus City Schools.
“I’ve actually been coaching for CCS for about 20 years. Volleyball at Africentric, Marion Franklin and Wedgewood, boys and girls basketball at Northland, and boys basketball at Berwick for the last 12 years.” Bowman said.
Coaching was one way Bowman thought she could help students stay connected to their schools, learn about discipline and become better overall students. This school year, she decided it was time to do more.
“This is the first year I decided that I wanted to do something different, so I retired from coaching. Nobody understood it, but I did. I got to the point in coaching where I thought I had done all I could, and I thought I could reach more kids than just the 10 to 12 I was reaching each season,” Bowman said.
When asked how she likes the change, “I love it, I absolutely love it!”
That’s because as the school year progresses, Bowman finds herself joking with students in the hallways and having serious conversations with them and their guardians about their needs.
“I was on the phone with a guardian who said she had a child who doesn’t have any medical insurance,” Bowman began. “I said ok, well, let’s look into Caresource and Kinship Care, and she said what is that? So it’s about getting that information to them about things they may not know about but will help them.”
Check & Connect is one of the tools Family Ambassadors like Bowman use to stay connected with families. In addition, the platform allows guardians to talk with FAs in the schools to monitor their child’s success.
“The great thing about check and connect is I’ll see students in the hallway and tell them I talked to your mom yesterday, and they’ll be like, ‘You did!’ and I tell them we had a wonderful conversation. So now they’re thinking ok, maybe she’s not as bad as everybody thinks disciplinarians are supposed to be.”
Bowman’s work is helping to break down walls between students, guardians, and administration at Johnson Park, creating a more welcoming and supportive environment.
As she works to engage with all families at the school, Bowman said her goal for this school year is to feel like she made an impact at Johnson Park Middle School.