Silver Chips Online

Mr. Allen: no jokes (VIDEO)

Math teacher creates lively but strict atmosphere in the classroom

By Jack Estrin, Online Editor-in-Chief
April 15, 2013
BNC Teacher Spotlight: Mr. Allen
Produced by Arpan Ghosh and Ian Kiefhaber



"Stevie killed the teacher, Stevie killed the teacher!" And so goes one of math teacher Ty Allen's most legendary stories. But don't let his colorful personality and humorous anecdotes give you the wrong impression about his classroom: his class is no joke. Allen has found the perfect combination of fun, entertainment, discipline and math and combined it into one unique teaching style.

Mr. Allen explains a problem during a Precalculus class. Isabel Hendrix
Mr. Allen explains a problem during a Precalculus class.
Allen's teaching style is self-described as three things: structured, no-nonsense and organized, and these qualities are apparent. He controls his class, and will not put up with anything but civility. His style ensures complete focus from the students, whether he's lecturing or performing one of his classic solo music acts. "It would crack me up when he would sing in class," Blair junior and one of his former students, Cailyn Keely, says. "His class is very lively." Orderly and lively may appear to contradict themselves, but there may not be a better description of a Mr. Allen class.

Allen was born and raised in New Orleans, La., but has harsh words for his hometown. "I don't like Louisiana," Allen says blatantly. "It was a very stagnant environment." But the stagnation evidently didn't spread to his education, as he graduated from high school in just three years, by completing "3 times 7 credits," or seven credits in each year of high school.

High school was also where Allen found his love for teaching. "I was inspired by my high school chemistry teacher... She was actually a really good teacher," Allen recalls. Becoming one himself took some time, however, as Allen did "church work" from ages 17 to 24. This included working as a minister and preacher, but not a pastor. "Don't call me no 'pasture' either," exclaims Allen. "I'm a preacher."

After finishing up with his church work, Allen got his first teaching job at a middle school in Los Angeles, Calif. teaching seventh and eighth grade advanced Algebra and Geometry. From there, Allen would go on to teach in Nashville, Tenn., the District of Columbia, Laurel High School in Md., and the local Earle B. Wood middle school. After teaching at Wood, whose students Allen calls "preppy," Allen made the move to Montgomery Blair, where he has taught since 2001. In the meantime, Allen attended college at California State Univeristy and Pepperdine University simultaneously, and eventually received his masters from California State.

"Several watches. I have several."
-Allen
Back in the classroom, Allen is known for his nice wristwatches and commendable clothing. "I like dressing in nice attire. Several watches, I have several," Allen says passionately. The watch he is wearing is sometimes subject to classroom discussion and analysis, as is nearly any given topical subject. "I like to talk about current events," Allen says enthusiastically. "The ridiculous stuff that happens in the news."

Allen has been married to his wife Denise for over thirty years. Together, they have partaken in a hobby of Allen's: travel. They have been to Paris, the Bahamas and 37 out of the 50 states. Despite being close to visiting them, Allen feels no need to complete the milestone because of his lack of interest in the midwest.

Back in Allen's classroom, Allen is teaching a lesson about business, and he has some words of wisdom for his students: "This is America, anything sells," he says seriously. Allen turns around, and completes his detailed outline on the board. He has the attention of each of the roughly 25 students in his classroom. There is no interjecting, sleeping or noise. Allen has achieved order, just the way he likes it.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/12046