The Uproar

Good Talk: Mr. Allen

From Brazil to the Bio classroom with more than enough coffee

Madelynn Stibbard, Head Interviewer

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So when did you start working here at NASH? Where else have you taught? Has this been your favorite place to work?

I started working here the school year of the 2008-2009, but started out as an 82% teacher, meaning I didn’t teach the full day. I was a little worried that I wasn’t going to get a full contract the next year, so I was really happy when I did. Before I got my teaching job here, I taught at Springdale Allegheny Valley, where I taught special ed support and special ed science. I actually served as both an aide and a teacher there. Before that I did a lot of subbing at various districts, and before that I taught English in Brazil. So far, this has been my favorite place to work, though. The science programs have really expanded, and the number of students taking these classes has significantly increased. I’d love to see a lab installed for the biology program in the future, but for now we make do with the classrooms and we get a lot of support for what we do have.

From my understanding, you didn’t first want to work in teaching, correct?

I actually wanted to work in research, and maybe work for a lab or company. I did that for a little bit after my undergrad, but I pursued a teaching job because I really enjoyed it when I was down in Brazil, and I decided that it was what I wanted to do.

What inspired you to go into biology and then teaching? 

I have always loved biology, but I think my biggest inspiration was around the time I was 5-7 years old. My aunt was a biology and chemistry teacher and we used to dissect fish that we caught and check their health, and she would bring home a bunch of different specimens  to dissect and I always found it fascinating. I also have a history of health problems in my family, so being able to understand those genetic problems on a different level was something I had to do early on, so that kind of forced of me to better understand biology, and it just continued from there.

You went to Brazil to do some research? Where else have you worked?

I met a friend in college who was Brazilian, and she was going back over the summer and invited me to go along. I bought a ticket very last minute, and after about week two I started to get bored because I didn’t have anything to do, so I started looking for a job, started learning Portuguese, and started teaching kids English and ended up having an incredible time taking some courses down there and really getting to appreciate the country. I  got to work with people of all ages while teaching down there. I had kids  who were as young as 6 years old, and I actually had a man who was 86 years old who was trying to strengthen his conversational English.

 

When did the coffee craze start for you?

Probably when I was about 10 or 11. My father, whenever we’d go hunting or fishing or camping, would make me very weak coffee, with lots of creamer and hot chocolate in it. And every year he would add less and less of the creamer and more of the coffee, so I was probably addicted by the time I was about 13 or 14. My father was a coffee fanatic, so it is probably genetic, too. My favorite coffee brand is good coffee. I don’t have a specific one, but I have found that anything that is freshly ground is better. I gotta say, though, Brazilian coffee is amazing. There’s something about how they roast the coffee beans that just makes it taste great.

What is your favorite thing to do outside of school? What is your favorite tv show?

Spend time with my family, particularly outdoors. Stuff like going for a walk around the neighborhood, going to the park, kayaking, fishing, camping, just being outside. As for tv shows, that’s a tough one. I am really into animation, so Futurama is probably my favorite show. Unfortunately, I have corrupted my son, for it is his favorite show now as well.

Do you have a bucket list? 

I don’t actually have a bucket list. My wife and I would much prefer to do things spontaneously. For instance, we decided that we wanted to go to see the eclipse, so we packed up the truck on a Sunday, got there that Monday, watched the eclipse and drove home. Before my wife and I had kids, we would drive north and go camping in Canada for a few days and then drive south and spend a week in Tennessee. We went around the states to visit friends and spent a fair amount of time traveling. We would wake up on the weekends and say, “Hey, let’s go to Phipps Observatory or drive out to the Columbus Zoo.” One thing that I would like to do that we haven’t yet is take my family to South America, particularly Brazil.

What is your biggest fear?

Losing people that I love. I have lost a lot of people in my life, but it scares me the most–not having enough time with them. That time with your family is so valuable and can teach you a lot about yourself.

What concept in biology or science in general do you find the most fascinating?

It’s just so interesting learning about how things work and all of the complex and amazing things that make life possible. Every year, scientists are learning more and more about how things function. The advancements that come from that are constantly evolving, and seeing how scientists are manipulating that information is really incredible.

Do you have a favorite tattoo? Do any of them have a certain significance?

All of my tattoos are of either my family or of biology concepts that are really interesting to me. One of my tatoos involves iron, which has to do with a disease in my family.  And then I have tattoos that do with the concepts I teach, just because I think they’re  awesome. My favorite tattoo is probably the one that my wife got me of a DNA helix. It turned out really cool, and I got to tell the tattoo artist more about the structural components of the DNA and helped him design the tattoo.

About the Writer
Madelynn Stibbard, Head Interviewer

Madelynn Stibbard is a senior at NASH and will be attending Otterbein University.  She is the Head Interviewer of the NASH Uproar. Her interests include horseback riding, art, and singing in the school choir. She is an active member of the Multi-Cultural Student Union and has won a silver key and 4 honorable mentions for her artwork in the Scholastic Art Awards. Her major of interest is Ecology and Conservation Science and hopes to make the world a better place with both her determination and love for animals.

1 Comment

One Response to “Good Talk: Mr. Allen”

  1. Mr. Hannan on October 17th, 2017 8:30 am

    What a genuinely enthusiastic, passionate teacher! My go-to guy for all science questions.

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