Zamora: Positive campus culture, unique grading system highlight Bowman High
Upon finishing her site report on Bowman High School at last week’s William S. Hart Union High School District governing board meeting, Bowman High School Principal Nina Zamora was awarded the One Hart Award by governing board member Cherise Moore.
Moore, who represents Trustee Area No. 3, said that the positive culture that Bowman has “starts with the top.”
“I am extremely enthusiastic that Bowman does roll deep, because that is a reflection of your love of your leader and your love of those students that you serve and your love and support of each other,” Moore said. “That kind of culture and climate doesn’t just happen. It comes from the heart, the passion that you can clearly see, the dedication and commitment that Ms. Zamora has.”
Zamora has been the principal at Bowman since December 2020 and has been with the school for a total of six years. She was joined by a large group of Bowman students and staff members at the meeting.
Bowman recently was named a model continuation school by the state for a ninth consecutive year.
During her report on the school, Zamora said that the culture at Bowman is all about relationships and communication. She said that all students and parents have a Google number for her and other administrators, showing that communication is key. School staff also takes the time to personally get to know each student by name.
Part of that, she said, comes from the core values at Bowman: equity, respect, perseverance, inclusivity and integrity.
“Everyone, from the moment any student walks on campus, they’re greeted by name,” Zamora said. “They have several positive interactions with an adult on campus every day … Any person who steps on our campus, we want them to feel cared for, valued, heard. We want them to feel safe and comfortable on our campus. These are important things.”
That culture has helped to promote punctuality among the student population at Bowman, with no students being marked as tardy, to Zamora’s knowledge, despite only having three-minute passing periods. That doesn’t include students being late coming to school, Zamora said.
“There are no tardies between classes,” Zamora said. “Students are all in their classroom when that tardy bell rings and that speaks to a level of respect and just the climate that we have on our campus.”
As for grading, Zamora said that this is where Bowman stands out.
According to Zamora, Bowman students do not receive failing grades for assignments. Instead, assignments are either given a passing score or are marked as “no mark.” Permanent grading periods are every five weeks, Zamora said.
“If a student’s not meeting that 70% mark, we work with them to improve,” Zamora said. “Our ‘no mark’ data has significantly decreased over the last several years, and every year we work diligently to decrease the number of students earning a ‘no mark’ in any class.”
According to Zamora, only 2.3% of students are not showing proficiency or doing work.
Another way that Bowman is helping students is by making homework a privilege that must be earned rather than a necessity. Zamora said that, while recognizing that the system seems backward, it is a way for students to earn additional credits by working harder.
The credit system, which Zamora called “the data that matters more than anything,” sees each student earning two or more credits per class, and most students take four or five classes at a time.
Zamora was proud to say that all Bowman students are earning more credits than they did at their previous comprehensive schools.
“I’m so proud of our kids and so proud of our teachers for all the hard work that goes into our students’ success,” Zamora said.
With all of the success that Bowman is having, Zamora said that the school is offering more courses than ever before. New class subjects include Shakespeare, psychology and second-year algebra.
“We have increased rigor,” Zamora said. “We’ve increased opportunities for our students.”
Governing board member Erin Wilson, who represents Trustee Area No. 4, commented on the large group of supporters who were at the meeting for Zamora.
“I just am so impressed with the Bowman family that you all came to support,” Wilson.
Oluwadara Falodun, the student board member, also noticed how many people were there to support.
“The fact that the Bowman family came, students came to support you, that speaks volumes to how you are and how great of a leader you are at that school,” Falodun said.