America is full of success stories featuring a worker who starts at the bottom of his work and by working hard and preparing further manages to advance through the ranks. Such success is often connected to the reality of the American dream and gives us all a bit of encouragement that we, too, can work hard and move upward.
In the public schools, an individual must earn the Bachelor’s degree as a minimum requirement for teaching. That degree, focused on a particular area of study, enables a person to apply for a teaching position. Teaching positions are available as they open up and are not always available in a given year.
Amy McNeal Allen, now an experienced teacher, band director and administrator, is very familiar with that circumstance. When she studied at Florida State University in 1993, she interned at Golson Elementary. However, with jobs in short supply, she was first hired as a paraprofessional in the science lab at Golson the next year. In January of 1995, after her service as a paraprofessional, Amy was hired for a teaching position where she worked for the next six years teaching Exceptional Student and basic education classes. During that time, Mrs. Allen continued her education earning a Master’s degree at Troy in 1999.
In 2000, she was hired to serve as Assistant Band Director at Marianna Middle School and later served as Band Director for MMS until 2013. Her tenure as Band Director was one marked by huge success as the MMS band and its members were awarded “superior” ratings in Florida Band Association competitions during 12 consecutive years. Marianna Middle School band, under Mrs. Allen’s direction, distinguished itself as one of this area’s largest and most talented with over 300 members annually. The band and its performances fostered a positive climate on the MMS campus while enjoying widespread support from the community at large. Her program was renowned for the inclusion it offered middle school students at a time of adolescence when they needed it most personally and developmentally.
That long period of time spent as Band Director at MMS ended when Mrs. Allen was selected in 2013 to return to Golson Elementary for a two year stint as the Assistant Principal before she returned to Marianna Middle School in 2015 for duty as its Assistant Principal. Currently, she is serving as the Principal at Golson Elementary, the school at which she began her career in Jackson County.
Asked about her work at Golson, she replied that her vision is to help create a positive, nurturing environment to educate our children and grandchildren. With three children of her own—Shelby, Carley, and Josh—and her grandson Caden, Amy feels that she is in touch with the concerns and desires of parents with regard to schooling for their children. She notes her desire “to build a bridge” between the school, community, and parents so that all can work together to best meet each student’s needs. Personally, she credits her own experiences with great teachers and principals because they have had a tremendous effect upon her own development as an educator. Asked about her return to the school where she first began, Amy enthusiastically responded that it is her fervent prayer that she can now, after all these years, give back some of what she has been given in her educational experiences over the years. Accustomed to leading by example and fully using all her talents, Mrs. Allen embraces the fact that we can only lead if we are willing also to serve others. During the recent storm, she was one of the key helpers serving the evacuees who came to Marianna.
Given that Mrs. Allen has been privileged to “do” school from the perspective of student, parent, paraprofessional, teacher, band director, assistant principal, and principal –Amy Allen was a natural choice for administration at Golson Elementary. Allen truly believes the work she completed obtaining her Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership in 2006 was instrumental in preparing her for where she is today.