Camelot Academy of Escambia Recognizes Charles Allen as Teacher of the Year for His Ability to Inspire Students
Charles Allen brings something extra to the classroom. Before coming to Camelot Academy of Escambia, the science teacher served in the Marine Corps, worked for the Red Cross and worked in disaster protocol for AmeriCorps. He was also a sustainability program manager at the University of Notre Dame. These experiences give his students a model of calm, cool and collectedness in the science classroom.
But perhaps nothing in his resume prepared Escambia’s teacher of the year for his students better than his own history: When Allen was his students’ age, he was in their shoes.
“If Camelot existed when I was a kid, I would have been there,” said Allen, who was listed as a 2020 Teacher of the Year by Escambia County School District – a Camelot Education partner in supporting students who need alternative education programming. “As a teenager, I could have benefited tremendously from the self-discipline, self-control and self-empowerment that we teach our students.”
Camelot Academy of Escambia County, a K-12 school in Pensacola, Florida, reengages vulnerable students with a focus on trauma-informed care, practices that promote a culture of safety, empowerment, and healing.
Allen’s upbringing gives him the empathy to approach his students from a place of love. “I know firsthand what some of our students are dealing with. That gives me the understanding to help them even if they come in having had a bad day.”
Allen focuses on building trust with his students from the beginning. After establishing trust, he motivates them to learn about the subjects he loves, which include earth science, the rock cycle, earth and space, physical and chemical reactions, and matter. “Once students can see you as a human being and not just someone who is there to boss them around, that’s when they know that you are here to help them.”
To Chris Wooten, Escambia program manager, Allen is a standout staff member for his interpersonal skills and relatability with students. “He listens to his students in order to understand them,” Wooten said. “He really takes the time.”
To his supervisor, Alex Palmer, it’s the respect his students have for him that led to the recognition as teacher of the year. “They respect him. They respect his passion as a whole. As a result, his students are on board with what he is trying to achieve from the start.”
Allen applies the same focus and compassion to interactions with Camelot families and colleagues.
“He is very caring in his interactions with families,” said Palmer. “As a husband and father himself, he really connects with our students’ parents and guardians.”
As a colleague, he is a reliable team player. “He is sort of the glue that keeps us together,” Wooten said. “He is never too high or too low and he is always willing to lend a helping hand.”
Another secret to Allen’s success is good old-fashioned hard work. His motto: Hard work is undefeated. According to Wooten, Allen exemplifies this creed. “Mr. Allen can’t be outworked,” Wooten said. “To have someone who takes that amount of pride in his work and exudes excellence the way he does, that made this year’s decision on the teacher of the year a no-brainer.”
Allen’s work ethic prepared him to maintain high standards during the pandemic. Before Covid-19 struck, Allen had mastered Google Classroom and other online resources. He took virtual learning as an opportunity to make his presentations even more engaging.
Following his recognition as teacher of the year, Allen is committed to continual improvement.
“I always try to improve and get better. I want to keep doing a good job and I do not want to let anyone down,” Allen said. “I was flattered to be recognized because we have so many outstanding people who work in this building.”