Each week The Atlanta Voice highlights the Black men and women who are serving their communities on the board of education.

Jasmine Bowles represents district one on the Clayton County Board of Education. She is in the third year of her first term on the board and currently serves as VP of Strategy and Programs at an education-centered non-profit.

Bowles is a product of Clayton County Public Schools. She attended Brown Elementary and Mundy’s Mill Middle Schools before graduating from Lovejoy High School, all schools in her district. She went on to get her undergraduate degree from Emory University and her graduate degree from the University of Miami.

In her professional career, Bowles works to connect members of school boards across the country with one another. She also founded PROOF Inc. (Plans, Resources, & Opportunities for Organized Freedom) a community organization and think tank. She previously worked as a classroom teacher and policy fellow for the Louisiana Department of Education.

Bowles said she decided to run for school board in 2015 just before she began a run for a seat in the Georgia State House.

“Part of my interest in the state legislature was undergirded by the fact that that is where the school “funding formula” lives,” she said.

“I wanted to be a vessel for voices of teachers and families in my community, and a conduit of power and access to the system we all critique. Plus, it was long past time for my district to be more reflective of its community members,” Bowles added.

As a native of Clayton County, a former teacher and a millennial, Bowles believes she plays an important role to represent the needs of Clayton’s families on the board. She underscored her belief in the importance of black representation on the board.

Bowles said her favorite part of being on the board is working towards creating policies that will make sure every student receives an equitable education.

“ I love digging into money, contracts, and researching policy moves and best practices from around the world. That isn’t the sexy stuff, but it matters, and I love it,” said Bowles.

While she does not have kids, Bowles said she claims all 55,000 Clayton students as her own. As a member of the school board, Bowles says her first obligation is to the most vulnerable citizens of Clayton County, the young people who cannot yet vote.

“My time on the school board has deepened my belief that public schools are national treasures, and equitable access to them must be protected at all costs; while simultaneously deepening my belief that a system that was never built to serve everyone must be reimagined and rebuilt until it does,” Bowles said.

In her long-term vision for the district, Bowles wants Clayton County Public Schools to be a place where every scholar, teacher, school, and family has access to the tools, resources, and opportunities they need to self-actualize and fulfill their wildest dreams.

“I spent a semester at the University of Cape Town in South Africa, and it changed my life. Do it!”

Bowles told The Atlanta Voice that after her experience in South Africa she encourages every student to study abroad if they have the opportunity.

This article is one of a series of articles produced by The Atlanta Voice through support provided by the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to Word In Black, a collaborative of 10 Black-owned media outlets across the country.

Madeline Thigpen is an education reporter and Report for America Corps Member. She joined the Atlanta Voice in 2021. At the Voice she covers K-12 education for the Atlanta metro region and higher education....