Cowan adjusts as new economics teacher

Brynn Smith

More stories from Brynn Smith


John Cowan passes out worksheets to his students.

 John Cowan feels like the new kid showing up in a new high school, except he’s not. Cowan, the new AP economics teacher, moved from a small town in Mississippi to Atlanta this year. He is adjusting to life at Grady High School.
“Everyone seemingly knows everyone else,” Cowan said. “You don’t know people’s names and there are norms and traditions everyone else is following that you just have to catch onto.”
Despite his unfamiliar surroundings, he is already comfortable in his classroom. He carried his education techniques from Oak Grove High School, the school he taught at for the last eight years of his career. 
“Honestly, once students got here and I got to teaching, everything felt normal again,” Cowan said. “It’s a different classroom and it’s a different school, but at the end of the day, It’s still just teaching. It doesn’t really feel that different.”
Cowan and his wife found themselves packing up and leaving behind all their familiar surroundings. The move was a result of Kelley Cowan, Cowan’s wife, being offered a position at the Red Cross in a lab outside of Atlanta. 
“We left our friends and family and everything we knew all behind to start over in an entirely new place,” Kelley said. “So it definitely wasn’t an easy decision, but we’re very happy being here.”
Cowan knew very little about his new job when he accepted the position. He knew he would be teaching only economics classes, which is his favorite subject to teach, but did not know much else.
“Everyone I talked to when I told them I got a job at Grady would say ‘oh wow that’s really awesome you’re going to  be really happy there,’” Cowan said. “I’m just kind of nodding my head like ‘ok that’s good’ because I didn’t know that much about it.”
Cowan has never experienced  a schedule like C days, so he was just as confused as the other Grady teachers the first Wednesday of school.
“[C days] are definitely an adjustment,” Cowan said. “It definitely makes sense in a lot of ways, though. It allows for a lot of flexibility in scheduling, which is always important. We just have to find the best way to make use of those 40-ish minutes.”
Students are excited about Cowan’s fresh ideas and teaching style. Senior Sam Toole appreciates a lively classroom with an engaged teacher.
 “He seems to really have the ‘reach for the stars’ attitude that many Grady teachers lost years ago,” Toole said. “He’s very enthusiastic and seems like he’ll be a good addition to Grady.”
 Both Cowan and Kelley are looking forward to immersing themselves in both the grady and Atlanta community. 
“Being in a new place is always a great opportunity to grow and see how other schools operate,” Kelley said. “He’s definitely the most patient person I know, so I think that definitely helps him as a teacher. He’s smart, funny, charismatic, yeah, I like him okay.”