Ms Laura Allen on how she engages students in the classroom
Meet Ms Laura Allen. Ms. Allen has been teaching at New Life Academy for 16 years. She loves both history and Christian education. Find yourself in her history classroom on any given day and we can almost guarantee you will lose yourself in her lesson and not even notice the time or the fact that you are in a room full of middle schoolers. Why? She is passionate about both her subject matter and middle school students.
Get to know Ms. Allen better in the video below.
What do you love about the grade or subject you teach?
I know most people cringe when they think of teaching Middle School, but it’s my favorite age. They are eager to learn, quick to laugh, and beginning to really explore their own relationship with Jesus. I do my best to make history fun to learn. I had teachers growing up that were very rote, gave us a lot of memorization of dates and it was really boring. I love history, mainly because it is a lot of stories and storytelling is fun. I will do anything to make history fun. For example, I will use ridiculous accents, will do cartwheels, will have them role play – anything I can do to make it alive, real and relevant to their lives. I am willing to be crazy and silly and make ridiculous jokes because that keeps students attention and keeps them engaged in the lesson. I will do anything that helps kids learn, no matter how silly it may seem.
What are you most passionate about as a teacher?
Watching kids get really interested in a topic- so much so that they forget that they’re “learning”. Add to that the bonus of watching young hearts be molded by the Master potter. What an honor!
Even if I only have a student for one year, I desperately want them to know that they are love. That they are fearfully and wonderfully made by God and that their teachers love them and their life is also a story. History is not the only place we talk about stories. Their lives are a story and my challenge to them is to always ask “What am I going to do with my story”
What do you think sets New Life apart from other schools?
What sets us apart is that Jesus is at the center of everything we do. It automatically makes this feel like home. You feel safe, you know that you are loved here. Our school is full of fearfully and wonderfully made students, adults, staff. As a teacher, I am able to engage in those teachable moments that I may not be able to do if I weren’t at New Life. For instance, if there is behavior or something going on, I am able to ask, “Is everything ok, have you prayed, what would the Bible tell us to do”. The fact that we are able to weave Jesus into not just the subjects that we teach, but the everyday life lessons that we need to learn makes this place special.
New Life is not just about academics. We are here to teach the whole student. We are going to develop a relationship, invest in who they are. It’s not just about grades, it’s not just about learning, it’s about helping mold that child into the person that God wants them to become. One of the most memorable moments I’ve had with a student had nothing to do with History class or even school. I sat in my classroom as one of my students poured out her broken heart to Jesus and asked Him to be Lord of her life. It was a moment I will never forget!
In your opinion, what is the value or importance of Christian education?
I am a sponge for learning and am fascinated with new information, but to be able to combine that with loving Jesus is the highest honor. Teaching history while at the same time pointing to His story, gives me such joy. The balance of learning subjects while also learning more about the One who created us and loves us is what Christian education is!
About Ms. Laura Allen
Laura Allen has been teaching at NLA for 16 years. She graduated from Northwestern University – St Paul with a bachelors degree in Education. She loves teaching at NLA because it is more than a job. “It has become a family. The students, their families, they feel like an extension of my family. Over the years, you watch as the staff unites around each other and they surround you in every way.”
She’s taught social studies subjects for all 16 years. She is a self-proclaimed history nerd and feels that’s a good thing because it comes out in the way she teaches, the energy she puts in to her class, and the stories she tells. She loves seeing the connections her students make in God’s creation during Geography class or historical events. It gives her so much joy to watch her students learn new things.