When Gladdie Fowler was a young teacher in Beaumont, Texas, she once noticed that a student looked sick and insisted he go to the hospital, despite his desire to play a soccer game. that night. Doctors quickly discovered that he had an ulcerated colon that had turned cancerous.
“Each of her students was like a child to her,” recalls the young man, Johnny Roberts, adding that he thought he would have died without the intervention of Ms. Fowler, who visited him several times at the ‘hospital. “Everyone loved him.”
Ms. Fowler has become an expert school administrator. When poorly performing elementary schools in Port Arthur, Texas needed help, the principal knew who to call: Ms. Fowler, known as the “turnaround principal.”
She ran DeQueen Elementary School from 1999-2008, and what is now Port Acres Elementary School from 2012-2015. As Principal, she implemented compulsory morning classes for struggling students, professional development for staff and teachers; and a summer school called Camp Can Do to help students who are falling behind.
“If a school was in trouble, you could turn to Gladdie Fowler, put her in a position and she would make it work,” said Mark Porterie, principal of the Port Arthur Independent School District, said in an interview. “She had the knowledge. She had the reader. She wouldn’t stop until she succeeded.
Ms Fowler died on Dec. 4 in a Houston hospital. She was 69 years old. The cause was Covid-19, her daughter, Edreauanna Fowler said.
Ms. Fowler has also advocated for people facing mental health issues. She served on the board of directors of the Spindletop Center, a nonprofit organization that provides mental health services to four counties, for 35 years. She has also served on the board of directors of the Texas Council of Community Centers, which represents organizations across the state that care for people with mental illnesses, developmental disabilities, and addictions.
Her mental health work extended beyond the boardroom. People often called or knocked on his door, asking for help for relatives. “It doesn’t matter what time of day or night,” her daughter said. “My mother would stop what she was doing.”
Gladdie Lee Plowden, one of 10 children, was born in Port Arthur on June 15, 1951 to Fannie Plowden, a housewife, and Willie Sostand, a worker at a petrochemical refinery.
Known to friends and family as Gigi, she graduated from Abraham Lincoln High School in 1969 and received her undergraduate degree in 1973 from Prairie View A&M University in Professional Home Economics and Business Development. child. That same year she married Eddie R. Fowler, who was also an educator. Ms. Fowler subsequently obtained a Masters in Educational Administration from Lamar University in Beaumont.
After starting work at Beaumont in 1974, Ms. Fowler transferred to the Port Arthur Schools in 1986, as a teacher, program supervisor, vice-principal and principal. Known as engaged, passionate and resilient – she has lost her home twice to hurricanes in 12 years – she strolled around campus taking notes on a tablet with a leopard print case. She retired in 2015.
With her daughter, she is survived by her husband; one son, Eddie R. Fowler II; two grandchildren; and seven siblings.
“I love kids, I love education and my only goal in life was to change someone’s life,” Ms. Fowler told the Port Arthur News last year.