Cowan to retire after nearly 20 years with CCPS

Published 2:42 pm Monday, May 31, 2021

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Serving GRC for almost 20 years, a beloved nurse, teacher, and friend will be retiring from the Clark County Public School System.

Mrs. Teresa Cowan has been an influence to so many different students in so many facets of life.

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Cowan, a teacher in the Area Technology Center for six years, and a school nurse for 19 years, has come across many students, many teachers, and many stories.

Retiring this summer, Cowan is taking time to reflect on all that she has seen as a health care professional and instructor within the schooling system.

As many health care professionals know, being a school nurse can bring about some out-of-the-ordinary circumstances. Mrs. Cowan is very familiar with these circumstances.

When asked about her favorite memory as a school nurse, Cowan remembered one of her most enjoyable encounters with a student in need of a nurse.

“My favorite school health story was the time a freshman got a nickel stuck in his nose,” Cowan said. “He said ‘it was a magic trick gone bad!’ I was able to remove the nickel, but he was frustrated with me when I threw it away.”

While Teresa Cowan enjoyed school nursing, friend and future coworker, Heather Abner, would reach out to Cowan about a new opportunity.

The ATC was hiring a new Health Science teacher.

“At that point in my professional life, I was ready for a change and new challenges,” Cowan stated. “I had taught the nurse aide class at BCTC so I had some idea about what I was getting into. Mrs. Abner and I had known each other most of our lives and had worked together before, so I knew we would be a good team together, so I accepted the position.”

This transition was not faced without challenges, however.

“Once I was hired, I had to go back to school to get my teaching certification and then completed my master’s degree in Career and Technical Education,” Cowan added.

“Coming into the classroom was great fun, going back to school as a student was a huge challenge!”

Despite adversities Mrs. Cowan would face throughout her teaching career, her enthusiasm and care for each student truly showed.

Cowan’s biggest reward is the way she sees her students grow.

“My greatest day teaching is always watching our students in their clinicals and internships when everything they’ve learned in the lab comes together in the real world and they see the relevance of what they’ve learned,” Cowan said. “You can almost see the light bulbs come on in their heads! It’s also very exciting when students pass their certification exams and become health care professionals. That part never gets old!”

As Teresa Cowan has looked back on all her favorite memories, she also looks ahead to her retirement.

“Retirement is bittersweet for me. I’m excited about the possibilities for retirement, but this job has allowed me to work with my best friends!” Cowan said. “I will miss seeing Mrs. Abner and Mrs. Prater every day – they are two of the best nurses I have worked with and two of the best people to work with.”

Heather Abner and Teresa Cowan have been a team at the ATC for many years. – Photo by Tennyson Prater

Heather Abner is not happy to see her long-time coworker and friend leave, but she is thankful for the time they have gotten to teach together.

“The best part of teaching with Mrs. Cowan is that we complement each other,” Abner said. “She has been my wingman for the last six years. We know what the other will say or do in any given situation. I will miss working with my best friend. She is my rock when I am having a bad day.”

While there are some things Cowan is leaving behind, she is excited for what lies before her.

“My husband, Jim, and I have a few travel plans for our retirement. Our first big adventure begins on June 27 when we leave for a month-long camping/hiking trip,” Cowan said. “Several years ago we began hiking sections of the Appalachian Trail and our goal was to hike a section in each of the 14 states the trail passes through.

We’ve hiked the southern states of the 2200-mile-long trail and so now we plan to finish the northern states beginning in Pennsylvania and ending in Maine. We’ll take our camper stopping at different campgrounds along the way and hike sections in each of those states until we end up at the trail’s end in Maine.”

Mr. Cowan is excited for his next adventure with his wife in the summer to come, but truly knows how much teaching meant to Mrs. Cowan.

“I think Teresa gets a big kick out of getting to know and interact with her students,” Jim Cowan said. “I’m not sure I’ve ever known any other teacher who enjoys her students more than she does. She does seem to find real joy in working with her high schoolers, especially in the nursing profession that she truly loves.”

Her son, Zac Cowan, also expressed this “real joy” that Mrs. Cowan gives to each student.

“My mom loved being able to share with her students everything she knows and loves about the medical field,” Zac Cowan shared. “She is so passionate, gifted, and knowledgeable, and I know that she enjoyed being able to share that same passion and joy with others wanting to work in the nursing or the medical field.”

While Mr. and Mrs. Cowan await their trip this summer, they are also excited for the time they get to spend with the newest addition to their family.

“We can’t wait to spend lots of time with our granddaughter, Layla, who lives with her parents in Ohio,” Cowan said. “Beyond those plans and some other trips we want to take, I’m open to whatever God has planned for this chapter of my life – the possibilities are limitless. I may even go back to school again!”

As Mrs. Cowan takes a step out of our school system, she would like to encourage students who want to pursue the same path she has taken.

“School nurses are often the first or only health care provider some students see,” Cowan said, “School nurses have the opportunity to make a real difference in the lives of students and families. I loved teaching my profession and getting back to the basics of nursing care. It was very rewarding to teach young health care professionals how to treat patients with respect, care, and concern.”