Update February 3, 2011:
Since this article was published late last year, the political situation in Egypt has changed. Recent protests in Cairo have raised concerns over Raymond Lowery’s safety. According to a letter between Lowery’s son and librarian Jean Wu on February 1, Lowery is not in any danger. The following is an edited transcript of that letter:
Thank you so much for your concern. I’ll let my father know you all were wondering about him. Please rest assured however, my dad is just fine. The neighborhood he lives in is quite a ways away from the current protesting and marches. We have also been able to speak with my father everyday for the past week, and he sounds good. We have registered him with the state department, so they know exactly where he is. Unfortunately he is stubborn as ever and doesn’t want to leave until he’s forced to. That said, we are trying to convince him to take a vacation up to Barcelona, Spain. He should be on his way up to Barcelona by Wednesday. His neighbors are all nice people and love my dad, so I also feel confident if he did stay in Cairo, he would be safe. I’ll keep you posted on what he decides to do; rest assured he will be okay. Thank you again for caring! If you could, forward this to anyone who is worried about Raymond.
When Raymond Lowery retired as principal of Kerr High School in 2009, he thought he might travel the country; he never thought he would end up on the other side of the world.
Lowery said in an email that life has been “sort of [a] whirlwind” since he left Kerr.
“The first year after Kerr I worked as an educational consultant, traveling around the country working with high schools on various issues like literacy, classroom management, and instruction,” he said. “While in California on a trip, I talked to some folks from Egypt in San Francisco and decided to join them in starting up a brand new school in Cairo.”
Lowery said he missed talking to students when he worked as a consultant. Serving as principal to the Global Paradigm School offered Lowery similar experiences to those he has “grown so fond of at while Kerr.”
“A typical day is much like when I was at Kerr, except that I am teaching only one class of English 9,” Lowery said. “When I am not teaching I am working on completing paperwork or walking around the school like I did at Kerr, seeing what issues I need to address and of course talking to kids whenever I can.”
Every day, students participate in morning assemblies. They say the pledge to the Egyptian flag, sing the national anthem, and do a reading from the Quran. The majority of students come from Egypt or other middle-eastern countries.
Before students head off to class, the school director or Lowery gives announcements about daily events and other concerns.
Lowery said he enjoys living in Cairo, despite the heavy traffic.
“I mean, [from] living in Houston I know what crowded freeways feel like. But here, it is the frantic pace of the driving… where you might have 6 lanes going in each direction. No one seems to pay attention to the lanes, so you might have 10 cars and trucks in those 6 lanes. You should have to learn to be a defensive driver here,” he said. “That said, the people are so incredibly gracious and generous and kind.”
Lowery said he has not had the chance to sightsee due to the work.
“I really haven’t traveled that much since I came here because I was so busy with getting school started,” he said. “This winter break, my two sons are coming and we plan to spend some time at the red sea snorkeling and fishing and then will go cruising down the Nile from Luxor to Aswan to visit all the ancient ruins found there at Karnac and in the Valley of the Kings.”
Despite his change in location, he still thinks about the students and staff at Kerr.
“Take care and please give my best to all Kerr,” he said in the email interview, “and you know I must relate both to you and the rest there… Find ways to be the difference that makes the difference…in your own life, the life of someone close to you, in your school, and your community.”