Since 2004, each year during the Commencement ceremonies, Hobart and William Smith Colleges have celebrated the early childhood educators of graduating HWS seniors for their impact in the lives of students during elementary, middle and high school.
During Commencement 2014 on Sunday, May 18, William Smith senior Rebecca Waldrop honored Ithaca High School Social Studies teacher Maryterese Pasquale-Bowen with the Colleges’ Touching the Future Award, and Hobart senior Thomas Mascia recognized James King, his track/cross-country coach from Saint Joan of Arc Catholic School in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.
Before the Commencement ceremony where they were honored, Pasquale-Bowen and King reconnected with their former pupils and interacted with the campus community during a reception at the house of HWS President Mark D. Gearan.
King, a longtime coach with the Cleveland-area Catholic Youth Organization and a Business Unit President of CBIZ, Inc., was nominated by Mascia, who credits King’s fairness, respect, passion and determination as the values that have propelled Mascia through tough times and beyond.
King was Mascia’s eighth grade track and cross-country coach when Mascia was hit by a bus traveling 40 miles an hour, which broke his femur and collarbone, and lacerated his lungs. When Mascia, also sustaining a traumatic brain injury, awoke 10 days later, 30 pounds lighter and “afraid to move in that big hospital bed, I felt so far away from the forest and the track, but Mr. King was there beside me. When I moved to the Brain Rehabilitation Unit, Mr. King was there. He was there too when I tried to walk again. And on that first day when I could only will my body to go nine feet, he told me that I did great. Wherever I went in life, Mr. King remained by my side reminding me to push myself a little more today and even more tomorrow.”
King’s coaching career began in 1977, when he was 15, thanks to a gym teacher, Yvonne Breslin, at the local elementary school, who told King that a group of motivated students were in need of a coach.
Two years later, upon learning of the sudden close of his high school, he graduated as a junior and, after a semester at college, decided to enlist in the U.S. Army. He spent 16 years, serving as a commissioned officer in military intelligence, retiring in 1996 as a captain and company commander.
He earned his a B.S. in computer and information science and his M.B.A. in entrepreneurism, both from Cleveland State University as a night student. He worked as a software developer and held various leadership positions in the technology industry before assuming his current role as a regional president for CBIZ, one of the nation’s leading providers of business services.
King has coached more than 30 teams in youth sports including football, baseball, softball, and track/cross-country in particular. Running has always held a special place in his heart.
“I loved what the sport brought out in me, and what the sport can yield in terms of understanding the true meaning of ‘team,’ and the abstract life lessons of hard work, dedication, determination, sacrifice, goal-setting, victory and especially handling defeat are valuable experiences to have in your pocket,” says King, who credits his parents with instilling those values in him and his six brothers and sisters.
“I credit them with everything I became. I’ve covered a lot of ground in my life, and I keep coming back to the fact that my parents provided us an enormous and very valuable foundation of core values that we needed to succeed in life. I’m a product of them.”
To recognize the educator who had the most significant impact on touching the future of a William Smith student, Waldrop nominated Maryterese Pasquale-Bowen. First as a sophomore in Pasquale-Bowen’s humanities courses, and then as a teaching assistant in her ancient history course as a senior, Waldrop observed that “whether putting together a traditional Victorian tea for 50 high school sophomores, helping plan an exchange program to Great Britain, or challenging students to think and read critically in her history class, Mrs. P-B is a students’ best ally….She pushes her students to do and be more than they thought they could accomplish….She is everything a good teacher should be: creative, loving, tough, and sharp as a tack. It is with wit and grace that she laid the foundation for everything that I have accomplished at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in the past four years.”
Pasquale-Bowen earned her B.A. from Cornell University. After completing her M.A.T., including her one-year teaching credential certification at Ithaca High School, she was hired in 1974 for a six-month position, which turned into a 40-year career.
Teaching social studies as well as variety of unique elective courses, Pasquale-Bowen traces her varied interests to her grandmother, an Italian immigrant, and the cultural liveliness of her own upbringing in Binghamton, N.Y., a city, Pasquale-Bowen recalls, “with Slovakian enclaves, Italian enclaves, Irish enclaves-a vibrant city with working factories, GE, IBM, a lot of people working different kinds of industries.”
Of her career in teaching, Pasquale-Bowen says, “I’ve tried to make the community a classroom.”
Why was she was drawn to the humanities in particular? “I loved the subjects I could teach,” she says. “I liked high school, I liked the excitement of students that age, I loved my colleagues. I found the people I worked with were exciting.”
Pasquale-Bowen has been named an Outstanding Educator by Cornell University, co-curated an exhibition at the Kroch Rare Book Library at Cornell and coordinated special projects with Cornell’s Johnson Museum of Art.
She has advised Ithaca High School’s Nosanchuk Lecture Series, which concluded this year with a trip to Washington, D.C. and featured such guests as Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The Touching the Future Award was established by the Hobart and William Smith Colleges Board of Trustees in 2004. It derives its name from the famous words of Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher selected to participate in the space shuttle program who died in the explosion of Challenger. McAuliffe expressed the sentiments of many teachers when she said, “I touch the future, I teach.”