Lisa Bowen's career has not been a straight path to educational administration, but it seems to be a sure one.
Bowen, 46, the new principal of South Charlotte Middle School returns to the school where she once served as assistant principal in 2003 and 2004, and worked with former principal, Christine Waggoner, who retired this year.
"I'm thrilled to be able to come back to a school that is just so incredible," she said.
Bowen realizes that some students may be nervous about the change, but advises them to relax.
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"I'm not going to come in and make all these changes that you (the students) are uncomfortable with. My goal is to make you the best that you can be, and Mrs. Waggoner's been doing that for a long, long time.
"I look different. I probably talk a little different. My personality's different, but at the same time she and I both have the same goals," said Bowen.
She hopes parents find her "very approachable" and that they'll continue their support of the school.
"Every day I'll run this school as if my son were here," she said. Her son, Tyler, 14, will begin high school at Providence this fall.
"I have a very vivid memory of what his middle school years were all about," she said.
Bowen began with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools as a student teacher at South Mecklenburg High School and advanced to assistant principal. She left that position to take a 10-year detour into marketing for the NBA with the Charlotte Hornets and Charlotte Bobcats.
The NBA opportunity presented itself at a time when Bowen wanted to start a family. She felt the move would allow her more flexibility. She also knew, however, that she would return to education.
Although marketing and education may be seem like very different entities, Bowen found similarities.
"When I was selling the Hornets and the Bobcats, it was a great product, but there's nothing like selling students and an educational mission," she said.
Her marketing position required her to build and maintain relationships, which she feels is also critical to student success.
"If I develop a relationship with the students and they know that I care about them and their education personally, they're going to push themselves and excel," she said.
Bowen's venture into marketing is not so surprising given that she began her college career at Appalachian State as a business/marketing major.
In her sophomore year, she took an introductory class in special education to satisfy a humanities' requirement. The class caught her by surprise and she changed her major to education.
"I didn't grow up playing teacher with the chalk and all that... I was a tomboy playing baseball or something... I had never thought of teaching," said Bowen. Bowen left the NBA and returned to CMS as assistant principal at South Charlotte Middle School and moved to open Ardrey Kell High School where she also served as assistant principal. She left Ardrey Kell to be the principal of E.E. Waddell High School, which recently closed due to budget cuts.
Since she has returned to South Charlotte Middle, Bowen's been spending her summer preparing for a new year.
"We're going to make the best better," she said.