Johnstown Independent

Retirement draws near for veteran art teacher

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Eighteen-year Johnstown-Monroe High School art teacher Bob Mowery stands near a variety of his own creations, including a mold of his own face that's in the process of being painted like an American flag. Mowery is retiring after 18 years.
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Art teacher Bob Mowery's career palette has included letter carrier, mail clerk, quality life coordinator, landscape architect and educator.

He officially will retire from his role as Johnstown-Monroe High School's art teacher on July 31 after 18 years.

Though the 64-year-old has been a one-person program, he said, he has been able to lay a foundation for the nearly 3,600 students who have passed through his classroom doors.

"The Columbus College of Art and Design says they (his former students) come there with a good foundation," he said. "I can't compete with Upper Arlington or Dublin, where there's three or four art teachers. I don't have the stuff. But when I did student teaching at Fort Hayes, I picked their brains about what kids needed."

Mowery said he utilized everything he had learned from prior jobs before joining the Johnstown staff in the 1996-97 school year. He said he always knew he wanted to teach.

He received his bachelor's degree in fine arts from Bowling Green State University and continued his studies elsewhere.

"I thought if I had a wide variety of artistic background, it would open doors," he said.

He took some art education classes at the Ohio State University, but midway through a term, OSU started a new program, and students were required to go into a master's program.

"I only needed one or two more credits to finish," he said. "They wouldn't grandfather me in so I went to Ohio Dominican (University). It was a great school. Ohio Dominican taught me how to teach. I still use some ideas I learned in college. It was a great place to get an education."

After receiving his teaching certificate, Mowery said, a saw pair of job openings. Johnstown was the one he pursued.

The job was supposed to be temporary to fill in for a teacher on maternity leave, but it became full time in a matter of months.

Mowery said his motto, posted above his desk, is "Drawing is the genesis of all art."

"I've been able to teach all aspects," he said. "I recently got into stone sculpting. It's intense. I also like illustrations and cartooning. It makes people laugh. You can do goofy things with it. I still dabble in landscape architecture."

The New Albany resident said it's most rewarding to see students apply the techniques he taught them and then see them do well.

"It's like seeing a seed that blossoms," he said. "You can't put a price tag on that. They don't realize they have that talent."

Senior Lalah Mills has taken most of Mowery's classes.

"He first started influencing me when I drew flowers," she said. "He came by and said it looked wonderful. He taught me things I didn't know. I learned how to paint."

Mills said Mowery takes time out of his day to help anyone. She has taken three of his classes this year.

"I (draw) owls a lot, and he helped teach me how to make them artsy," she said. "You want to be like him. He pushes people, helping them find their way. He's a wonderful teacher."

Mowery said he hopes his students have learned to never give up.

"Hard work always beats those who don't work hard," he said. "That's my philosophy."

Algebra and math teacher Chris Carlisle, who's also head golf coach, has known Mowery for 10 years. He said he has appreciated Mowery's special touches, using his calligraphy skills to write athletes' names on achievement certificates or commemorating special game balls.

"When I coached middle school track, he helped with the discus throw," Carlisle said. "He knew more about that. People don't understand the amount of time he has given without any fanfare at all."

He said students are surprised to learn on Veterans Day that Mowery is a veteran because he doesn't bring attention to himself.

"He wears a T-shirt that's an American flag on Veterans Day," Carlisle said.

He said Mowery also has a touch for bringing the talent out of students and making them better.

"He has made a world of difference," Carlisle said. "I'm thankful for his friendship."

Mowery and his wife, Joanne Adams, a medical illustrator, use the Cultural Arts Center in Columbus.

"They have a wide array of adult education classes," he said. "I took a class there in the summer. I learned so much."

Mowery said he decided to retire because of heath issues and to help baby-sit his new granddaughter.

"I will do more of my own artwork, landscaping, gardening and yard work," he said. "A number of people in town asked if I would do private tutoring or teaching."

Mowery also has his eye on the old train station near the former Johnstown Feedmill, he said.

"That would be the ideal place for an art station," he said. "It would be a great art depot to teach art. It could be a community thing. People could teach different types of art. A community art center would be phenomenal."

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