Profile in Courage in Public Education: James Bowers

stacked rocks on a mountain top with a sunset

James Bowers, Homeless Administrator at Centralia School District, and his wonderful team

Capital Region ESD 113’s Profile in Courage Award has gone to individuals and district employees but never to an entire partnership between community members, parents, a non-profit organization, and a school district. This is a unique partnership indeed.

Last month, Reliable Enterprises announced a truly unique accomplishment with the Centralia School District. They and other community partners opened up an apartment complex that offers housing to 23 families in the District that have been homeless! “This unique housing program will improve the lives of students and encourage families to invest in their child’s continued academic success,” said James Bowers, homeless administrator for the Centralia School District.

Bowers has worked with the McKinney-Vento program for years. “Along with State Foster Care and the Salvation Army, we have a wonderful team to mitigate homelessness for 23 families,” he said. The partnership also includes the Lewis County Health and Human Services and the City of Centralia. Local church groups have also donated their time and energy to see these families have a home.

Bowers and his team have partnered with Reliable Enterprises for only one year. But planning, building, and administering the program have taken R.E. 6 years to complete the project. Now, the District and other R.E. programs are screening, moving, furnishing, and housing the apartments so that students and their families can best be served. “How do we decide which families to choose?” Bowers asked. “Well, we started with those students and their families living in cars. Our Coordinated Entry program helps with the transitions. Our team does a wonderful job acclimating the process.” In order to help the families adjust to actually having a home, the partnership tries to acclimate five families to the apartment complex per week.

Families in the apartment complex have students in CSD from pre-K through 12th grade. Families who keep their students enrolled and progressing in school are allowed to stay. Hopefully, the families will stay for many years… So that every child has the opportunity to have a structured living environment.

The program was made possible through an $8 million grant from the Housing Trust Fund and the Washington Department of Commerce. “This is an experiment. How will we translate this to better attendance, reduction of services, better grades… we will just see in the next few years,” said James.

Congratulations to the Centralia School District for the courageous work done for families — especially students who are no longer homeless — because of their incredible partnership. They are the January Profile in Courage Award winners.

Would you like to nominate someone for our Board of Directors to honor as a profile in courage?

  • Any employee, resident, volunteer, or student in one of the 44 school districts and one tribal school represented by Capital Region ESD 113 is eligible to submit candidates to Dale McDaniel for consideration.
  • Please keep submissions to 400 words or less. Photos are encouraged.
  • A small committee will review the applications. The Board Chair will read one selection each month prior to our Board meeting. In addition, that month’s submission will be prominently featured on our ESD 113 website.

Think about the heroes in your life who have done courageous things to support our students and staff members. We want to honor the wonderful role models who have been working in our public schools!