Deborah Childs-Bowen was a member of the Engaging Schools board of directors for twelve years, serving as its chairperson for seven and a half of those years. She passed away after a long illness on Dec. 16, 2019.
Engaging Schools’ Executive Director Larry Dieringer was honored to speak at Deborah’s memorial service:
Deborah led the Engaging Schools Board with grace and understanding. She led us through change—we took on a new name and updated our mission. She helped us keep our eyes on what mattered. When the challenges were tough, she stayed positive and encouraged people to work together. She could be both firm and flexible. Her commitment to Engaging Schools was deep and steadfast and for that we are grateful.
Deborah was passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and about creating schools where each and every young person felt welcomed and could thrive. Through her own work, her work with Engaging Schools, and her work with other organizations, she touched the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people.
Having received a Masters in Special Education from Howard University and a Doctorate in Education from Nova University, Deborah spent her life working to improve teacher training and the delivery of quality education for children. She served as the executive director of The Elaine Clark Center for Growth and Development of Exceptional Children, director of SERVE-UNCG Atlanta, and as director of professional development for the Atlanta Board of Education. She eventually started her own firm, Creative Mind Enterprise.
In 2001, she accepted a faculty appointment as Associate Professor and Director of Alliance and Leadership in Education for Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. An inspirational thread through all of her work was equity and the importance of culture-building for districts and schools linked to culturally sensitive learning practices for students.
Deborah consulted and trained educators throughout the United States and around the world. She served on the boards of directors/trustees of the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, SERVE, Learning Forward, and Engaging Schools. She received the Learning Forward Distinguished Service Award and in 2016, co-authored the book, The Principal Influence: A Framework for Developing Leadership Capacity in Principals.
Her world-class intellect, her understanding of leadership and all that’s needed for good teaching and learning, and her respect for school leaders, teachers, and students permeated everything. She thrived in her work because she valued, nurtured, and modeled the strength of the collective.
Deborah lived life vibrantly and believed that everyone and everything has beauty. She had a deep love of and commitment to family, being married for 46 years to the love of her life, Edward Bowen, Jr. She was the proud mother of two daughters and was overjoyed when she became a grandmother in 2018. She will be deeply missed by everyone at Engaging Schools and by all who loved her.