Teacher Feature: Ezra Cowan, Overcoming Occlusive Obstacles


Photo by Hayden Fowler

Jayden Oquendo

Growing up in a small town like Cleveland, N.C. cultivated South Pointe’s Personal Health and Wellness teacher Ezra Cowan’s perspective on life and reshaped his style of teaching. 

Cowan had to face numerous hurdles in order to get where he is right now, educating high school students about personal health and wellness. Cowan wants to show students “what an education can do for them” and to “provide a foundation for those individuals who otherwise may not have that opportunity.”

Cleveland, N.C. is located in Rowan County. It is a small town where everybody knows everything about everyone. Cowan was situated there for his entire childhood. Growing up in such an area allowed him to witness “many different layers of life”.

“I’ve been able to see individuals who were poor, been in contact with individuals who lived above the poverty line and some who are very well off,” Cowan said.

Cleveland’s total population is less than 100,000 and is predominantly Caucasian. The education level has about an 80% high school graduation rate but less than 17% of these people have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Cowan didn’t let these statistics influence him in being the person he is now. He is a college graduate and is still proceeding to reach his masters. 

Even with all the accomplishments Cowan has, he says, “Since I am a perfectionist, I am not where I want to be.” 

“As a fourth-grader, the high school I was soon to attend was occupied by the Ku Klux Klan. And then later on when I got there, there was a lot of racial tension going on at the time,” Cowan elaborated.

Cowan had not only financial issues, but issues with education as well. Cowan is the third youngest child of eight in his family. His father had passed soon after he was born which led his mother to become a widow and sole caretaker of the children in the household. It was financially difficult as other problems arose in the family. But Ezra Cowan was determined to become successful.

Cowan attended the local high school and intended to make the most out of himself. He played multiple sports such as baseball and football. Cowan currently holds the record for fastest touchdowns ever scored with two back to back end zone appearances in under a minute. 

Just like any other student, Cowan had a teacher he disliked. “Ms. Williams, the science teacher. I disliked Ms. Williams,” Cowan claimed.

Cowan even had a teenage crush. “Nikki Ramsewer was one of the prettiest girls at the time I laid eyes on.” Despite the fact that Cowan faced many issues in his hometown, he didn’t let it obstruct him from having what’s close to a normal experience.

“High school wasn’t the greatest experience…tt was good and bad, sometimes the bad outweighed the good for the most part.” 

Cowan attended North Carolina A&T and was a political science major. He played baseball for his college where he swept the tournament and won a championship in ‘93. 

Despite all these factors, Cowan still became a teacher. He wanted to show students “who grew up in similar situations as I did, to provide them the opportunity to understand what an education can do for them.” He enjoys teaching and embraces the fun of interacting with teenagers at this critical stage in their lives. He wants to “provide a strong foundation for those individuals who otherwise may not have that opportunity or have a role model that will show them.” Being brought up in such a place like Cleveland gave him the inspiration and drive to give back and help students who have been through comparable conditions as he did. 

Most importantly, Ezra Cowan is a teacher at South Pointe High School. Cowan educates students on mental illnesses, abstinence from drugs and other harmful substances, and reproduction. Rather than sticking to the units specifically, he tells stories on how he has been raised and experiences he has encountered. He shares personal relations with the topics and builds a connection with his students.

Cowan interacts with his audience to make his class enjoyable and interesting. He uses his upbringing to engage with teenagers and laugh with them. He embraces what may appear to be a difficult childhood, a learning experience, and a positive environment in the classroom. 

There is always one thing he strongly emphasizes. “Old school music provides a message on life and new school music only provides a beat,” which makes it far more superior.