School district leadership has been put to the test during one of the most challenging years for educators. Lancaster School District chief, Michele Bowers, stands out as one local education leader rising to the COVID-19 challenge and has been named the 2020 Los Angeles County Superintendent of the Year.
The annual recognition presented by the Los Angeles County Office of Education pays tribute to the talent and vision of school district leaders in the nation’s largest regional education area. As head of the Lancaster School District, Bowers oversees the education of some 15,000 students from preschool through grade 8.
Los Angeles County Superintendent of Schools Debra Duardo surprised Bowers with the award during an outdoor event at the district headquarters in Lancaster.
“During this time of extraordinary challenges, Michele Bowers remains a visionary education leader who finds innovative ways to engage students and inspire staff,” Duardo said. “She is a tireless, passionate advocate for educational equity and for ensuring the needs of the whole child are met.”
The Los Angeles County Superintendent of the Year Award, launched in 2017, recognizes an individual’s leadership for learning, excellence in communication, professionalism and dedicated community involvement.
“Dr. Bowers will be the first to say that it takes the full team to make important achievements. But our board is blessed to have her as the leader of our community’s fundamental education of elementary and middle school children,” said Diane Grooms, president of the Lancaster School District Board of Trustees. “Her response to the pandemic is a perfect example of her leadership style. Without hesitation, she put the needs of students first and followed up immediately with concern for her staff. Her true strengths of calm leadership emerged with even greater success — and that calm determination is more contagious than any virus.”
Bowers joined the Lancaster School District as an assistant superintendent in 2007 and was named superintendent in 2012. An educator for more than 20 years, she has dedicated her life to educating and enriching the lives of children and is committed to creating options and excellence in education for all students.
Bowers has been instrumental in bringing STEAM, Dual Language Immersion and computer science programs to the district, as well as expanding visual and performing arts programs and opportunities for extended learning. She successfully opened the Fulton & Alsbury Academy of Arts and Engineering, recognized as a California Distinguished School.
She actively works to build strong community partnerships and opened a Welcome and Wellness Center to assist families with school enrollment and access to support services and resources. She has focused considerable effort on students’ social-emotional growth and advanced an approach to staff development that emphasizes building meaningful, empathetic relationships with students.
An active member of numerous professional and community organizations, Bowers serves on the board of the California Association of African American Administrators and Superintendents and is the group’s state chair on chronic absenteeism and truancy. She is a United Way board member and is involved in the Lancaster West Rotary, Antelope Valley Board of Trade and the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce.
Bowers earned a master’s in Educational Administration from California State University, Bakersfield and a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy from Pepperdine University.
She will receive a $1,000 grant for use in her district courtesy of the California Credit Union.