Tyler Bowden

Sophie Bauer, Staff Writer

Math class: A realm of numbers, reasoning, and for an hour and a half in room D320, one of the most intriguing teachers at Highland High: Tyler Bowden, this year’s Sterling Scholar in the field of Mathematics, or, as he’s better known during class, ‘Superman’.

From a young age, Bowden, a student with a gift not only for understanding the subject he excels at but also for helping others to understand it, knew that he was interested in math.

“I have kind of always loved math, throughout all of elementary school and junior high,” Says Bowden. “But I think it really was about eighth grade or so when I realized that I really wanted to be a math teacher.”

It’s that interest that led Bowden to become a teaching assistant for Highland mathematics teacher Stephanie Watrin- not just grading papers and stapling packets together, but taking on the role of teacher himself.

A typical class will see Bowden talking students through problems, explaining how to solve them, and giving students a chance to take a crack at new problems themselves. But they’ll also see Bowden being engaged with the people he’s teaching, joking around in between problems and laughing while he answers questions, and making sure that his students, often only a year younger than himself, are able to get what’s going on.

Mathematics, along with involvement in extracurriculars, is one of the two most effective gauges of success in college, because it teaches analytical thinking skills that have to be employed to solve problems.As a class that builds at every instance on previously learned course material, it’s also extremely important that students have a solid foundation and understanding of everything that they do so that when the time comes to build on it, they’ll have the tools to advance to that higher level.

This isn’t something that come naturally for every student, however, and like any subject, a large part of mastering it comes having a teacher who can keep students engaged with the class and who can explain things they don’t understand yet in a way that makes sense both in the moment and going forward.

Bowden is adept at both of these things, and to top it all of, he’s someone that students can relate to more easily, and feel more comfortable around in general. He’s good at what he does, and passionate about it, but he makes sure to promote an environment in which it’s okay to make mistakes and to take the time needed to learn from them.

“He’s always been a really patient person, and loves to be able to help people and explain things.” Says mother Maria Bowden.

The teaching experience, though, hasn’t just helped students, it’s helped Bowden.

“From what I’ve seen he’s really gaining self-confidence” Says Highland mathematics teacher Stephanie Watrin.

Having taught him in two previous math classes, 10th Honors and AP Statistics, and now coaching him on how to teach himself, Watrin has a unique view on Bowden’s continuously changing relationship with math.

Out of many talented Sterling Scholar candidates, Watrin posits that what elevated Bowden above his peers was his ability not only to solve math problems, but to explain how he got to his answer.

“Some kids are really good at doing something, but they can’t explain it.” Says Watrin. “He’s really good at explaining things, and that sets him apart.”

While this may be the reason that Bowden rose above others to win the Sterling Scholarship, he also has a history of community involvement.

As a child, Bowden played soccer and basketball, and later ran for two years on the Highland track team. Bowden also participates in the chess and math clubs. One of his longest-lasting passions, however, is music. Bowden loved to play the piano, and for the last three years has sung for the Highland school choir, the Madrigals.

His commitment to being part of his community, both as a teacher and an active member of it, will be part of a portfolio that Bowden submits for the regional Sterling Scholar competition in mid-January.

As a class, mathematics tests a student’s ability to think critically, apply that thinking to a situation, and, through that application, comprehend the situation and the results of it. And as someone who’s seen math through different lenses at a young age, Bowden makes clear the importance of math that extends far beyond the classroom.

“Math allows us to be able to see more about life and be able to analyze it and see the connections within everything.” Says Bowden.

Certainly, his own connections — the connection between math and music, student and teacher, individual and world — prove that the vital skill of mathematics could no have no better representative.