Pam Howeth: Class Act
Longtime Teacher Takes Council
Sherman High School teacher Pam Howeth wanted to be an actress.
But early on, she realized there was no money in that profession; at least not steady income. So, she did the next best thing.
“I became a teacher,” said Howeth, smiling. “Where else can I be on stage every day and have an audience? I get to do my two loves – entertaining while teaching – and they don’t dare boo me!”
Howeth is laughing at the thought, but she truly believes that her two early interests, acting and history, have ‘melded together’ in her teaching.
“I get to talk about what I love: government and get to perform in a way,” she explained. “It’s my on-going saga, but it fits.”
She is a fixture in the SHS faculty having started in February 1977 to finish the year begun by former teacher, Joe Roe, who had a medical retirement at that time. She did well enough to be brought back in the fall; and she’s been there ever since.
“I’ve been in the same room all these years,” she said. “The building has been changed but not me. I’ve ‘homesteaded’ this spot!”
The Texas Tech University graduate came to Sherman with a secondary education degree specializing in history and government. Currently, she teaches U.S. government and Advanced Placement U.S. government. Over the years, she has taught geography and American history and even world history but government is where it’s at for her.
“I like teaching it because government changes every day,” explained Howeth. “There is always new stuff. It is a challenge to explain what the people in Austin and D.C. are doing and sometimes, it’s hard to make sense of it.”
She pointed out one example concerning ‘freedom of religion’ and recently when someone in Dallas sued over the phrase ‘One nation under God’ in the Pledge to the American Flag.
“I love teaching this stuff because I get to pull in current events,” said Howeth. “Freedom of religion hasn’t changed but there are actions and interpretations for and against it. Teaching that type of subject keeps you on your toes; keeps you thinking.”
She also noted that events will happen at night and be brought up the next day in class.
According to Howeth, she has taught almost four thousand students in her career at Sherman.
“I consider it my privilege to teach most of the students who graduate,” she said. “I get to see them grow up and spread their wings to go save the world.”
Howeth believes that many students leave but return because Sherman is a ‘good town.’ And recently, she put that belief to work when she ran for the Sherman City Council in 2008. She has since been re-elected last May and will serve a three year term because the council changed the term lengths during Howeth’s first term.
“I consider it a privilege,” said Howeth. “I’ve always wanted to be on the council but when my children were growing up, there never was time for something like that.”
Now that children, Stephanie and Christopher, are grown, Howeth relishes her time in city government.
“It’s great to have the opportunity to teach about it and do what I tell my students to do: get involved,” explained Howeth. “It was time.”
Actually, it was one of Howeth’s former students who issued the challenge of ‘putting your money where your mouth was.’
“Curtis Hughes was on the council in my district. He decided not to run again and asked me to run because he remembered what I had said about involvement in your city,” recalled Howeth. “Once I was there, it was a real eye-opener. Being part of a government and teaching it are very different from one another; but I enjoy it.”
Howeth added that she has learned a lot about Sherman and there are ‘great people’ working as city staff and on the council.
“They really care about Sherman,” she said.
Howeth would like to see Sherman promoted more and she does what she can from her council seat.
“I not only want to promote Sherman but north Texas, too,” she said. “It’s been a learning experience.
One of the highlights of her tenure has been the opening of Pecan Grove Park in west Sherman; Opening night was the Fourth of July this year complete with fireworks.
“It is really special to see those things happen,” Howeth said.
In addition, she noted that having the opportunity to meet people that she wouldn’t have been simply as a local teacher. She included many business leaders in that category.
One humorous facet of being on the city council, according to Howeth, is that current students view her as their personal city councilman.
“One asked me when I was going to fix a non-working fountain and mow the park,” laughed Howeth. “But it’s good that they now know someone is in charge of that stuff; an elected official in their local government has to handle those types of situations. And hopefully, they too will get involved.”
She added that her students get to learn about different governmental entities and are able to apply what she teaches on a daily basis.
Howeth was born in Waco where her father was in the U.S. Air Force.
“We moved around a lot,” she said. “But I’m really a Texan.”
She met and married Larry Howeth, who at the time was an assistant band director for SHS, during the early years of her tenure. But there is always something else in her life, too.
“Social Studies is the love of my life,” she smiled. “I’m at home here in this classroom.”