Getting to know Mrs. Cowles

 

  • Outside of teaching, do you have any hobbies?

 

    • I love fountain pens! I actually have about 100 fountain pens. I have one that was made in the early 1900s and several that were made in the 20s and 30s, in addition to brand new ones and special editions. I love the way they look and I love the way they write. Fountain pens make writing something fun and fancy. There are so many colors of inks as well. I even go to the LA International Pen Show every year!  I also do calligraphy and lettering. It started as a way to use my fountain pens but it has gone far beyond that now! I love taking classes and learning how to make beautiful letterforms and make things look pretty!

 

 

  • What made you want to become a teacher?

 

    • Well, I was NOT one of those people who always wanted to be a teacher. In fact, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. I joke that teaching is a genetic disorder because it so often runs in families. My mom taught elementary school and my dad taught college classes. My grandfather was a pastor and my grandmother was a teacher.  My aunt was the Dean of the School of Education at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. I can actually trace my family tree back to Nathanial Hale – the guy during the American Revolution who said, “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country” before he was executed by the British… He was a school teacher.  So it wasn’t something I set out to do. I kinda feel like I ended up a teacher by accident rather than by choice. But I wouldn’t change it at all!

 

 

  • What have you learned about the district as a whole since teaching here?

 

    • I’ve learned that we are really blessed with the resources and support we have in Laguna. I grew up in San Diego County, so I wasn’t really familiar with Laguna or with Orange County in general. We have so much and I’m really proud of all the students who work to help others.

 

 

  • If you could tell students one thing, what would it be?

 

    • “Be Kind.” We are all going through stuff – and I don’t mean the quarantine.  Every single human on this planet has something that they struggle with and it’s not always obvious. And we tend to develop tunnel vision about our own struggles and forget that others have their own struggles too. So be kind. Treat everyone with kindness and respect, regardless of what they can do for you.  Kindness and respect will take you so far and make the journey smoother. There is no downside, it costs nothing, and it is always the right thing to do. 
    • “Hold on, it gets better.” There are moments in life where things feel REALLY BAD (™). It’s so hard during those moments to remember that it is just a moment and things will change.  But they will. And you have to have hope, you have to look for the good stuff. It doesn’t make the bad stuff go away but it does make the bad stuff easier to bear.

 

 

  • Do you have any tips to help students/anybody get through this time of uncertainty?

 

    • Get enough sleep – but don’t stay in bed all day. Being well rested makes everything seem more manageable and helps with the depression and anxiety that can be prevalent during major scary events like this. But staying in bed too long can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation – so don’t stay in bed all day.
    • Eat good food and drink enough water. Not enough food makes you hangry (hungry+angry). Being hangry just sucks. Good food can make you happy but most importantly, it helps keep you healthy! Same with water.
    • Get some exercise. Walk around the block, do jumping jacks, jump rope, do yoga!  Exercise is a good way to deal with stress and anxiety. And it will help you sleep better.
    • Find a routine. Set a routine for getting up and getting dressed. Getting work done. Schedule time for exercise. Schedule time to do something creative, to do some self-care. Set a time for bed. I feel like I’ve been able to accomplish more and have better mental health when I follow a routine.  
    • Reach out for help when you need it. Human beings are social creatures, so this time of isolation from our friends and support networks can be extra hard. So reach out if you feel yourself going down a dark path. I’m here, your other teachers are here, Ms. Aaronson is here, your counselor is here, Dr. Alleman, Ms. King, and Mr. Miller are all here to support you. We love you and want to help.  Lean on us and the other people who love you.
    • Hold space for yourself to feel what you feel. Sometimes we feel like we are ‘supposed’ to be feeling or thinking or doing more than we are currently capable of. That is okay! If you’re doing okay, that’s great but if you’re not, that’s okay too. We are all grieving the loss of what we thought and expected this spring would look like. So it is okay to grieve and that can take lots of different forms.  Remember that the five stages of grief (denial, bargaining, anger, depression, acceptance) are not linear and it’s okay to bounce back and forth between stages.  I find myself alternating between anger, depression, and acceptance. It’s okay.

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