Speaker teaches teachers to “teach like rock stars”

Corrigan-Camden Elementary’s  Leslie Ricks, Melissa King, Amy Kilgore and Trish Frankens famously represented C-CISD at Hal Bowman’s Teach Like a Rock Star event in August. (Photo by Beverly Cockrell)Corrigan-Camden Elementary’s Leslie Ricks, Melissa King, Amy Kilgore and Trish Frankens famously represented C-CISD at Hal Bowman’s Teach Like a Rock Star event in August. (Photo by Beverly Cockrell)

By Beverly Cockrell

On Friday, August 18, Corrigan-Camden ISD along with members of Leggett ISD experienced professional development like never before. Hal Bowman came to town.

"Mr. Hal Bowman was such an awesome presenter and so personable. His attitude was much needed to start off a great school year!," said Ms. Herlinda Villarreal.

What makes Bowman's approach so effective? He gets up close and personal. In order to reach kids today, educators must establish an emotional link with their students.

"Every school can be a great school," is Hal Bowman's mantra. The genius behind an innovative and invigorating style of teaching today's kids, Bowman launched his "Teach Like a Rock Star" event over twenty years ago and has have gained national and worldwide attention in all areas of academia including college and university staff. Much like an old fashioned church revival, Bowman fuses high energy, music, and his own personal teaching and learning experiences to "wake up" and jolt teachers into new ways of teaching in the 21st century while at the same time touching their hearts through his personal anecdotes.

Bowman began the event by relating to participants his early childhood years. He was born in Camden, New Jersey, where his mother taught school. He reflected that every day after school he would sit in the window and wait for her to come home. When she came home, she was tired and usually had tons of homework papers to grade, yet she always made time for him. He said the two of them would sit and talk about the day. He remembered his mother told him that she felt that she was truly helping and inspiring kids to reach their goals. These special, intimate times served as an impetus for Hal's desire to become a teacher. Sometime in his youth, he and his family moved to Texas.

Eventually, he graduated Texas Tech in Lubbock in music education. His first "gig" was as a band director in the small town of Pettus,Texas, in South Texas. The town was so small, he related, that he felt a bit disheartened; this experience, however, would prove a Godsend. He remarked that although the school was very tiny, this situation presented a unique and desirable opportunity for him. This "small school" experience implanted the idea that would ultimately become the prototype he envisioned all schools.

He talks about this experience further on his website, " 'There were probably just a couple hundred kids total in the junior and senior high schools', he admits "so everybody knew everybody else, and there was an incredible sense of community and purpose. I had graduated from a large high school and we didn't have that. I wondered if it was possible to build this kind of environment in the large schools we build today.' "

Ultimately, Bowman would move to the Houston area. He taught at Cy-Fair ISD before deciding to take his talents on the road full time.

On his website (, Bowman states that "After spending 20 years in the classroom, teaching just about every subject you can imagine to kids in kindergarten through seniors in high school, I have spent the last decade on the road working, studying, and consulting with the very best educators and school leaders across the nation. I've compiled a truckload of the absolute best ideas, concepts, and strategies that truly affect school culture. And now, I'm a man on a mission to share everything that I've learned."

To the delight of the combined C-CISD and Leggett audiences, Bowman managed to get "up close and personal" with several of the teachers, staff and even the administrators. Corrigan-Camden Assistant Principal and Coach Javier Perez did not escape Bowman's teasing. As to be expected, Coach Perez took everything in stride and played along graciously.

Kathy Harvey, who will be back this school year at C-C Junior High, was also a favorite of Bowman's. She as well was a gracious and wonderful "volunteer" from the audience. At one point, he asked her how long she had been teaching and Harvey stated thirty years. When asked how many of the attendees had been taught or had children that had been taught by Mrs. Harvey, many stood up, applauding and fighting back tears of appreciation and in tribute of Mrs. Harvey's years of dedication and success. Indeed, the event got fairly emotional at times.

Last but certainly not least, there were the "girls from C-C Elementary" who captivated the audience from the very outset. Leslie Ricks, Melissa King, Amy Kilgore and Patricia "Trish" Frankens were adorned in matching rock and roll attire including bandana headgear. It was inevitable that Bowman would taunt them as well and did he ever. Predominately, it would be Trish who Bowman would question, but her great attitude provided some of the best lighthearted moments for attendees.

In the end, Bowman's main message to all was that educators must get close and personal with students. Bowman was able to help educators understand that it is vitally important to realize that if students are to be the best they can be, we must make it personal. It is not simply about passing a test. Through his high energy, personalized approach, Bowman helped educators understand that these are children – not statistics – and it is our duty to impact the child as a whole. Getting to know students and helping them build good character helps them to reinforce good habits.

C-CISD Assistant Principal Javier Perez summed it up best:
"It's obvious that Mr.Bowman used his upbringing for the better. He overcame a lot of obstacles and chose to "Betheone". We have a lot our students that can relate to his childhood and can be as successful as he is. We have to take a personal interest in our students lives. "BETHEONE" that makes a difference in our students lives like the teachers did in Mr. Bowman's life."