Suzanne Bowes, ray of mathematical sunshine

Suzanne Bowes found math teaching in a twist of fate.Photo: Sophie Schreyer

“My students inspire me every day,” said Suzanne Bowes, a new math teacher at ARHS.“I always welcome and try to get feedback from my students, and I use that to reflect on how I teach so I can make their experience better in my classroom,” she added.

Although it is just a few months into the new school year, Bowes, who currently lives in Belchertown and grew up in Springfield, said she is embracing the changes and challenges that have come with being in Amherst.

“I love Amherst,” said Bowes. “It’s more diverse than any other school I’ve taught at, which is the main reason I chose to work here. I love to look at my classes and see a true representation of America.”

Bowes did not originally see herself pursuing a career in education, but, after missing out on an opportunity for financial aid in the UMass engineering program that had already accepted her, she opted for a different direction.

“Elms College offered me a $10,000 a year scholarship to enroll in their secondary mathematics education program,” said Bowes. “I was a single mother at the time, working and going to school, and I loved math. So I decided to pursue a career in teaching and I’m very glad I did.”

Maddie Shea, a junior and student of Bowes, has had great experiences in her class so far.

“Ms. Bowes is very helpful and makes the class interesting,” said Shea.

Other students in her class have expressed similar feelings. 

A senior in her class said “she always goes into the day with the right attitude and is always driven to teach her classes.”

Students have also described how she has a very understanding attitude towards students while maintaining a culture in her class revolved around growth and achievement.

Bowes said that in some ways it’s not surprising that she became a teacher.

“I do remember playing school when I was really young,” she said. And she does her best to put in as much energy as she can while reminding herself and her students about balance.

“Sometimes it can get overwhelming to be a teacher,” said Bowes.

“There is a lot of work outside the classroom that takes up a lot of time,” she added. “But to me, it’s all worth it. Especially when I see my students develop their math skills and grow into responsible, caring adults.”

Bowes said she always tries to set aside time each week to rejuvenate by spending with friends.

“I know if all I do is work, I will get burnt out, and then I wouldn’t be an effective teacher,” she said. “I look at my students as if they are my children, so it’s important to me that my students see that I care and I’m happy coming to school every day.”

Bowes said, that it’s worth it to do that, because for her, “teaching is so much more than a job.”