Teachers are Heroes: Tracy Allen gets kindergarteners excited to read and grow
Published on Monday, Sept. 13, 2021
BCSD photo / Monica Kreber
Tracy Allen’s kindergarteners at Cainhoy Elementary love it when she reads a book about a silly teacher named Mrs. Millie.
Allen has a love for books and reading, and reading is a big part of kindergarten curriculum. Her classroom is packed with books, but a favorite is “Don’t Be Silly, Mrs. Millie!” where the titular character has fun with her own kindergarteners by telling them to hang up their goats, eat gorilla cheese sandwiches, and wear bats and mittens.
Whenever Allen does something “silly” herself, she dons the nickname “Silly Mrs. Allen.”
Allen has a laundry list of funny memories from teaching kindergarteners; one time a student brought her a “breakfast burrito” that consisted of a flour tortilla wrapped around a pickle and mustard – Allen said the child was so proud of the delicacy when he bestowed it upon her.
Another time a child fetched a basketball to play with at recess, got a whiff of the ball and remarked, “This basketball smells like you, Mrs. Allen!”
“They say some of the strangest things, and you just have to laugh and go on with it,” Allen said.
Allen knows how to laugh at herself too, which is why she is okay with “Silly Ms. Allen”.
“Sometimes I do silly things too and make mistakes, and we can just laugh about it and move on,” she said.
Allen is originally from New Mexico and moved to South Carolina a few years ago. She spent two years teaching in Colleton County before coming to Berkeley County School District. This is her third year teaching kindergarten at Cainhoy Elementary, where she was a Teacher of the Year nominee last year. This is also her 23rd year teaching total.
While she has taught a couple of different elementary grade levels, most of her teaching career has been spent in kindergarten.
Allen is very active with Red Ribbon Week, a drug-abuse prevention campaign. She is a supporter of anti-bullying and other initiatives. She is part of her school’s Sunshine Committee, which highlights Cainhoy Elementary staff members on their birthdays and provides words of encouragement throughout the year.
Allen comes from a big family with seven children who grew up in a rural area in New Mexico. Four out of the five sisters in her family all grew up to pursue teaching at some point in their careers. Allen recalled her older sisters would play “school” with her; she knew her ABCs before she even started school.
Allen said it is very much the students that has kept her in the classroom.
“I love the kids. I love it when they say, ‘I can read that!’ – that’s the best part, when they can read their first word and they light up,” Allen said, adding, “This age group is just wonderful.”
Allen started off getting an associate’s degree in early childhood education through Eastern New Mexico University, and then went back for her bachelor’s degree in elementary education. She also has a master’s degree in reading and literacy.
Kindergarten covers a lot of material; identifying 3D and 2D shapes, counting to 100 and adding/subtracting within 10, to name a few areas.
However, reading is huge – recognizing sight words, phonics, guided reading and being able to get students to where they can read two to three sentences on a page are all part of what they learn during the school year.
Allen loves books and tries to get her students excited about reading – she likes a lot of “Dr. Seuss” and “Curious George” material. Her students have a lot of room in her classroom where they can enjoy a book.
When her students move on from kindergarten, Allen said she wants them to remember how much she loved them and that they are special.
“They are special and they can do whatever they set their mind to, and achieve great things,” she said.
Her favorite thing about Cainhoy Elementary is the school leadership; she gave high remarks to Principal LaWanda Glears.
“She really works with us and wants the best for every kid in this school,” Allen said. “She is a wonderful administrator.”
Allen has been married to her husband, Robert, for 36 years. They have two grown children and three grandchildren.
Outside of school Allen enjoys reading, crafts and going to movies. She resides in Summerville.