Outstanding Teacher of the Year

David Allen

David Allen

AP History & US/World History
Santiago High School
Garde Grove, California

David grew up in Los Angles and Orange County. His parents were both blue collar workers. His father was a machinist and his mother worked as an aid in a school. They provided a very strong, value based foundation David and always emphasized how important it was to give back to the community and find ways to take care of people who have less that his family had. They not only spoke often of this, but they actually “walked the walk.” During his formative years, David’s parents took him to Mexico three times a year to give time and resources to the people living in small towns and villages. They  helped build houses, helped set up services for clean water and brought supplies that were normally not available to them. His family eventually started a not-for-profit that, which to this day, supports 50 Mexican students to continue their education each year.

When David  graduated from high school, he attended Pepperdine University in Malibu, where he majored in History.  After receiving his BA, he went to El Salvador, where he lived with a family so he could improve his Spanish language skills and ended up teaching English to the children in the village. After a year, he returned to the states to work in the financial industry. After a couple of years, he moved to Arizona to take a job as an executive recruiter for businesses. David was in his late twenties and was in a job he did not enjoy. David grew tired and unfulfilled in his recruiting position and was resenting having to sit in a cubicle, talking on the phone all day long. Eventually he walked in one day and simply quit without really knowing what he was going to do.

At the time, David’s fiancé had been teaching for several years and truly enjoyed what she was doing. So, David packed up his belongings and drove back to Orange County to tell her he just quit his job. She was quite surprised at his sudden decision, particularly so close to their wedding date and she very quietly asked him what he was going to do. He told her he recently realized that the best part of his years in business was when he was able to teach others. He told her how he frequently remembered how he enjoyed teaching English when he was in El Salvador and he told her that because of this revelation, he has decided he was going to get his credential and become a teacher.

David applied and was admitted to Concordia University, a small Christian school in Irvine, and began the coursework for his teaching credential and his Masters Degree in Education. When he was about to begin his student teaching, he told his supervisor that he wanted to student teach in an urban setting with Spanish speaking students and he was sent to Santiago High School in Garden Grove, California. David had a great experience at Santiago High and was hired soon after his student teaching assignment was completed.

David now teaches World History, US History and Advanced Placement US History at Santiago High School and has also been an AVID teacher and the AVID coordinator. David’s success in the AVID program has led to his providing state wide summer work shops for AVID teachers and he has also has overseen AVID’s re-validation of Santiago High School’s certification as a National AVID demonstration School. Through his extensive experience with AVID, he has led the institution of the Writing, Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization and Reading (WICOR) based learning strategies into all aspects of the Santiago High school-wide curriculum.

Early in his teacher preparation program, David decided he would not become the teacher who was negative about kids and education. During his student teaching experience, he learned he truly liked teenagers and that he possessed an ability to reach all levels of students. He found that  he  honestly enjoyed and was tremendously excited by the thought of coming back for another day with the kids he so enjoyed teaching. Fortunately,  he says, he had “never lost that feeling in all the years I have been teaching. If anything, I believe my love for what I do has become stronger with each year.”

David also learned that a very large number of the students of Santiago High School suffer from the poor social-emotional issues they face at home and in the neighborhoods where they lived and that there are issues they bring with them to school every day and are at the heart of any misbehavior or lack of interest in learning or going on to higher education. Consequently, he made it his driving purpose to help his students build agency and give them the skills and the will to overcome their barriers and become.

David’s fist goal every year is to do all he can to build positive and dependable relationships with each and every one of my students. He strongly believes that teachers who change students are those who welcome kids into their classrooms and who enjoy doing whatever possible to ensure the successes of the students. He says, “If we love kids, enjoy teaching our subject and dedicate ourselves to ensuring their success by creating engaging and inspirational lessons that address their needs and interests, they will rise to our level of expectations. In fact, my experience has proven that all kids are capable of learning and exceeding their personal expectations and do more than they ever expected of themselves.”

David goes on to say, “I love my students and the key to my success has been the strength of the relationships I build with my students. They know I am there to help them to find success and, because of that, I seldom have behavior issues in my classroom and students do not object when I push them to do more and tackle more difficult assignments. They know I am not going to allow them to fail. Every day in the classroom, I try to build their self confidence and their intrinsic value of learning as a pathway to future success.”

-Published 2021

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