Palo Alto High School math teacher Kathi Bowers will replace Jason Fung as the athletic director beginning in the 2015-16 school year, according to a statement released by Principal Kimberly Diorio to staff this morning.
Fung is not leaving Paly — he will continue to be a Physical Education teacher and coach for the track and football teams. He says he decided to step down from the athletic director position because he wants to focus on instructing.
“At my job [as athletic director], I don’t get to see the students,” Fung said. “I’m going back to teaching, going back to what I enjoy doing [coaching].”
Although Bowers has been a math teacher at Paly for a total of 27 years, she says becoming an athletic director was her intended career path after graduating from college.
“It was actually what I thought I was going to do,” Bowers said. “But then I got derailed, and then I started teaching — because you have to have a teaching credential to do it [be an athletic director] in a high school. … I’m looking for a change.”
As athletic director, Bowers will be responsible for running the entire after-school athletic program.
“It comes down to making sure that everything runs smoothly,” Bowers said. “[I will] check eligibility, transfers, student grades, transportation, schedules and evaluate coaches.”
Her main focus of the year, however, will be the management of the gym construction project, which is set to begin this summer. According to Bowers, Paly will not have gyms or pools during the construction process.
“For 18 months we’re going to have to find practice space for every indoor team and our aquatic teams,” Bowers said. “That means you have to find [space/facilities] and get to practice everyday and find a place to play. … All of that stuff will be an added challenge.”
In addition, Bowers has several other goals which she will be addressing in the next school year.
“I’m also looking to increase student involvement [in athletics] a little bit more,” she said. “Not necessarily [just] with athletes but in other roles. I’d like the Sports Careers class to get involved in things like [becoming] information directors, announcers or working with trainers — looking for places for kids who aren’t on sports teams to still be involved in the program in a variety of ways.”
Bowers also says she wants to bridge the gap between the athletic and educational aspects of school.
“My other goal is to strengthen the partnership between athletics and academics,” Bowers said. “I think sometimes they exist in parallel universes and I’d like to see more overlap between them.”
After the construction project is concluded, Bowers hopes to improve communication between the athletic department and the rest of the school.
“I believe we could just really tap into their [students’] strengths or to improve the communication between sports, the publication, the newspaper, the teachers on campus, everything,” Bowers said.
According to Bowers, her experience as a math teacher and sports team coach will help her achieve these goals.
Bowers will teach one math class next year, but will budget 80 percent of her time for her responsibilities as athletic director. She says one of her concerns is the transition to spending significantly less time teaching.
“My biggest worry about the job is that I’m going to miss the classroom because I’ve been doing it for 27 years,” Bowers said. “That’s partially why I wanted to teach at least one class because I don’t want to leave that connection behind.”