two teachers standing in a school hallway talking to middle school age students

Amy Allen is an education administrator with decades of experience and a faculty member for the college's Special Education Law course. She is currently Superintendent of Schools for the Lebanon School District. Amy also served as the principal of Parker-Varney Elementary School in Manchester for several years. Under her leadership, Parker-Varney won the NH Elementary School of Excellence EDie Award in 2015 and the National School Innovation and Change Award in 2016. During her time at Parker-Varney, Amy focused on project-based learning and personalized learning for the school’s teachers and students.  

We held a little Q&A with Amy so our students could get to know her better and learn more about the field of education. 

What characteristics make someone a great educator? 

A great teacher is flexible, adaptive, and empathetic, but most importantly is able to create an environment that fosters a sense of belonging. Students and educators thrive in these settings.  

Many of our adult students pursue teaching as a new career path. How can prior industry experience be a strength? 

Prior industry experience is definitely a strength in education. Educators constantly look for pathways to connect academic knowledge to real-world applications. Some of our best science teachers were chemists or computer scientists. Project management, communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and problem -solving transfer into the classroom.  

All teachers must hold ethical and legal responsibilities, but special education teachers are experts in the federal laws that govern and support our students with disabilities. We have a responsibility to students and families. Our courses focus on the laws, their implementation, and strategies for building relationships with families. 

You’re helping to lead in the citywide Manchester Proud movement. What role does educator professional development play in supporting the goal of an equitable and inclusive school district? 

Diversity is the pillar of our community and society. Our educators cultivate classrooms that instill values of belonging, inclusion, and respect for all students.  They educate the "whole child" and celebrate individual strengths. Manchester Proud is just one example of the community lifting all our students' voices. Our students have so much to offer. Our job as educators is to tap into passions and experiences. 

Why is teaching education courses at the UNH College of Professional Studies important to you personally? 

As a 2004 graduate of the college, I saw firsthand the impact that this program has had on the field and students. The program is designed for the adult learner who is a career changer or someone who is looking for additional certifications or experience. It is student and learner-focused. It models effective pedagogy and authentic learning. Our students apply what they are learning in real-time.  

Teaching education at the UNH College of Professional Studies is important to me as I am able to stay connected to the field and develop future educators and leaders. Our students impact the lives of so many through their work. It is my responsibility to support them and give them a foundation for their careers. As an Assistant Superintendent, when we see a UNH CPS graduate, we know they are prepared to enter the classroom. 

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