Expressing ideas through writing

Carly Allen began her teaching career in a public-school setting. Often in these environments, a teacher’s job is dependent on enrollment levels. Being one of the newest teachers at her last school, Carly was unfortunately one of the first to be let go when enrollment levels dropped.   

She was then introduced to New Life by a fellow teacher who thought it would be a great fit. “I was like, really? Okay, I’ve never heard of it, but I’ll look it up I guess,” joked Carly. She found a teaching position online, applied, and the rest is history. This is Ms. Allen’s third year teaching at New Life. This year, she’s teaching upper school English, specifically honors English, college writing, and world literature.  

Carly loves teaching the many different elements of English, “literature allows all of us to experience something outside of what we normally would get to understand or learn,” said Ms. Allen. “I can open a book, read it and know what it’s like for somebody who lived during segregation in 1920, or I can read a book about someone’s childhood in India in my world literature class and see all of these different things.” 

Reading about the lives of others can help students “understand that we’re actually not that different from the people who’ve lived before us, or the people who live now on the other side of the world. It’s almost like bridge-building, which is really, really cool,” said Ms. Allen. Her students love the personal connections that she brings to her teaching and how she makes the material engaging and relevant to their lives.  

Ms. Allen also enjoys watching her students grow in their writing abilities. What is really impactful is seeing her students “learn how to express their ideas in effective ways and getting people to listen to their voice, because our students have voices that are worth listening to,” said Ms. Allen. 

Growing up, her favorite book was To Kill a Mockingbird. “I remember reading it when I was in seventh grade and thinking, ‘this is a classic. I’m smart now because I think it’s cool to read,’” laughed Carly. Now she reads it every year with her students as she goes through the unit, and every time she has a new and different understanding.  

Outside of the classroom, Ms. Allen has loved getting involved with the drama productions at New Life. In February, she will help Mrs. Gina Kortuem produce a Zoom version of Hamlet for the virtual Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) One Act Play.  

Carly credits the incredible English teachers she had growing up who exposed her to all different kinds of literature and different voices and authors. Now she has the opportunity to pass this love of reading and writing onto her students.