J. Scott Allen, Latin teacher from Henry W. Grady High School, was named Atlanta Public Schools’ (APS) 2015-2016 Districtwide Teacher of the Year during the APS Employee Recognition Celebration awards ceremony October 29 at the Omni Hotel at CNN Center.
It took a little time for the teaching bug to bite J. Scott Allen. But when it did, it bit him hard. Though both of his parents and his brother are public school teachers, initially, Allen chose another “helping profession”—social work. First, he graduated summa cum laude from the University of Georgia with both a Bachelor of Latin and Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies (Film Studies) in 2002. Then, after earning a Master of Social Work from UGA in 2007, Allen embarked on a career as a social worker in various settings and with unique populations including children in foster care, individuals in substance abuse residential treatment centers, and Grady Hospital’s Emergency Room and Infectious Disease units.
However, after having an opportunity to teach an undergraduate social work class at Oglethorpe University, Allen would come home to tell his wife, “Wow! I can’t believe I get paid to do this. I LOVE THIS!” She encouraged him to follow that passion into a full-time career or risk regretting it for the rest of his life, so he made the switch to education in 2009. Allen, who was born in Atlanta, but grew up nearby in Stockbridge and Alpharetta, taught Latin for one year at Hillgrove High School in Powder Springs before teaching at APS’ Henry W. Grady High School in 2010. He completed certification courses while teaching on a provisional certificate, and became a fully certified teacher in 2012. This year marks his seventh year teaching in general and sixth year at Grady. Allen is a proud World Languages Lead Teacher, as well as the Gifted Eligibility Team Chair. Allen loves teaching and hopes his students see and feel his passion for learning. His favorite part of teaching is forming and fostering positive and collaborative relationships with students. He loves his students and Allen is awed by their creativity and original thought. He loves seeing the “light bulbs” go off. Allen has been married to Michelle Spann Allen since 2008 and they have two children: Sarah Beth who turned two last summer and Jacob who is three months old.
As the districtwide teacher of the year, Allen will now compete for Georgia Teacher of the Year next spring. Atlanta Public Schools is home to the 2012 Georgia Teacher of the Year, Dr. Jadun McCarthy; 2013 Georgia Teacher of the Year Finalist, Elisha Gray; 2014 Georgia Teacher of the Year Finalist Tamika N. Ball; and 2015 Georgia Teacher of the Year Finalist Rita L. Simmons.
Finalists for this year’s honors included Elementary School Teacher of the Year Dennis Toliver, third-grade teacher at Grove Park Intermediate School and Travis Brown of Sylvan Hills Middle School. Candidates for APS Teacher of the Year are nominated by their respective schools. APS then selects an elementary, middle school and high school teacher of the year from a list of semi-finalists to compete for the districtwide honor.
To see video vignettes for each Teacher of the Year finalist, click on the links below:
APS 2015-2016 Districtwide Teacher of the Year and High School Teacher of the Year
J. Scott Allen, Henry W. Grady High School
APS 2015-2016 Elementary School Teacher of the Year
Dennis Toliver, Grove Park Intermediate School
APS 2015-2016 Middle School Teacher of the Year
Travis Brown, Sylvan Hills Middle School
With the theme “Inspiring Hope and Recognizing Excellence,” the APS Employee Recognition Celebration is an expansion of the annual APS Districtwide Teacher of the Year ceremony. Other 2015-2016 Employee Recognition Celebration honorees include:
Principal of the Year – Trennis Harvey, Heritage Academy
Assistant Principal of the Year – Lakeesha Ramdhanie, KIPP STRIVE Primary School
Schools First Award – Sheral Kemp-Mizell, Supervisor, APS Transportation Department
Students First Award – Tiarra Moore, Instructional Coach and STEM Coordinator, Crawford W. Long Middle School
APS Districtwide Partnership Award – Achieve Atlanta
APS School Partnership Award – IBM
About Atlanta Public Schools
Atlanta Public Schools is one of the largest school districts in the state of Georgia, serving approximately 50,000 students across 98 learning sites. The district is organized into nine K-12 clusters with 87 schools, 17 charter schools and two citywide single-gender academies, where students are offered rigorous instructional programs that foster success in school and life. For more information, visit www.atlantapublicschools.us