The Monterey Peninsula Unified School District and Central Coast High School will dedicate its new culinary kitchen and classroom in honor of long-time educator and prominent community leader Mary C. Owens on April 3, 2023 at 5 p.m. at Central Coast High School located at 200 Coe Avenue in Seaside. Students from the culinary class will cater refreshments for attendees. This event is open to the community. The kitchen and classroom will be formally named the Mary C. Owens Central Coast Culinary Classroom.
Mrs. Owens was born during the great depression in New Bedford, Massachusetts to a family who immigrated to the Eastern US from the Cape Verde Islands at the turn of the 20th century. She and her husband moved to the Monterey Peninsula in 1961 with the US Army and were stationed at Ft Ord. Prior to entering the education world Mrs. Owens worked as a private duty nurse. She has five sons and grandchildren.
Mrs. Owens earned her teaching and counseling credentials and was employed by the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District for more than 35 years. In MPUSD she served as Dean of Students, community liaison at Seaside High School, an administrator at Seaside High School, and a counselor at Martin Luther King Middle School and Los Arboles Middle School. She also worked with the continuation schools. She focused on addressing the personal, social, and academic needs of the students she served. She also taught classes in organizational skills, tutored her students, and held parent conferences. She organized and taught the very first Practical Nursing Program at Seaside High School.
Mrs. Owens was so well-respected by her colleagues that the Monterey Bay Teachers Association has an award, The Mary C. Owens Award, which is given annually to an educator who, through his or her own selfless spirit, enhances the lives of others.
Mrs. Owens has rallied community groups and agencies to support her projects to lead annual holiday shopping trips for students in need. For instance, a women’s group in Carmel provided her with the funds and resources to take 30 students to breakfast and then to shop for their loved ones. Afterwards, students were driven to convalescent homes to sing carols before returning home, a way for the students to experience the joy of giving to others. Additionally, Mrs. Owens found a way to assist students in need by helping their families pay their monthly rent/expenses and coordinating tamale sales with the help of parents and other community members for students and families in need.
Mrs. Owens has been the recipient of many honors including: Outstanding Volunteer – NAACP, Certificate of Recognition – Toastmasters of Marina, Outstanding Educator Award – City of Marina, “Yesterday’s” Courage Award – Monterey Bay LINKS, Inc., was named one of Ten “Outstanding Women in Monterey County” for the year 2002 and awarded the prestigious President's Award from the Monterey Branch of the NAACP.
Upon retirement in 2004, Mrs. Owens moved to her childhood home in Mattapoisett, MA and dedicated much of her time caring for her elderly Aunt. She traveled back and forth between Seaside, CA and Massachusetts, showing love to both communities by giving her heart through preparing traditional Cape Verdean food for friends and family in both Seaside and Mattapoisett.
Upon returning permanently to the Monterey Peninsula in early 2018, Mrs. Owens dedicated her time and attention to working with small children at the Village Project in Seaside and spending time at home in Seaside surrounded by the love of her children, grandchildren, other family members, and close friends.