SOUTHINGTON – The Southington Public School District has announced that Heather Allenback, Social Studies teacher at Southington High School, has been chosen as the 2019-2020 Teacher of the Year.
Allenback will be recognized at a reception prior to a Board of Education meeting in September at the Municipal Center.
“It’s exciting to be named Teacher of the Year,” said Allenback. “For someone to recognize my work and submit me for this recognition is very humbling.”
Allenback said her teaching philosophy is that she is there for the kids and the kids are there to learn. She is there to help guide them.
Allenback has been teaching in Southington since the beginning of the 1995-1996 school year. Allenback attributes her love of Social Studies to being part of a military family that has a vast appreciation for history. Living in eight states prior to entering high school in Connecticut, and visiting family stationed overseas, provided her with the opportunity to encounter a variety of cultures and lifestyles. As a result, she has been able to bring a greater understanding of historical influences to the teaching and learning process.
“My dad was a retired U.S. Air Force fighter pilot and no matter what country we were in, he could not help but stop at every monument and tell me what happened there – that’s what got me interested in history,” she said. “No matter where I moved growing up, teachers were always there for me, which is why I became a teacher. When I was going to college at The University of Connecticut, he was stationed in Turkey and I would visit him once a year. I got to see most of western Turkey and Greece and I did some additional travel throughout Europe and South America. I was also interested in seeing lots of places across the U.S. and the people that make up our country.”
Allenback received her Bachelor of Arts degree in History from the University of Connecticut in 1994 and a Master of Arts degree in Education from the University of Connecticut in 1995. She received her Sixth-Year Degree and certificate in Educational Leadership from Central Connecticut State University in 2012. Allenback served as the Assistant Social Studies Department Leader for the 2013-14 school year before becoming the Social Studies Department Leader in 2014.
“My goals when I became the Department Leader were to re-organize the core curriculum we were offering,” she said. “It is required in Connecticut for the state to teach American history. Traditionally, they would teach early American history in fifth grade, the Civil War in 7th and 8th grade and bring things up through modern times in 9th, 10th and 11th grade. I’ve always felt that separation between years was very disjointed. Now, I have reconfigured it that we teach American History through the early 2000s in 7th, 8th and 9th grade. That way, we get to content that is far beyond what most districts cover. Often they get stuck in Vietnam, the 1970s and the 1980s and don’t get much further.”
Allenback said that next year she will be introducing a class on government for juniors.
“That is around when they will be on the cusp of voting and getting their drivers’ licenses so it will be a lot more relevant for them at that time,” she said.
Allenback said that she also gets students access to AP Psychology, college level courses.
In addition, Allenback is the head coach for Southington High School Cheerleading, a position she has held since 1997. She was recognized this year as a Coach of the Year from the Connecticut High School Coaches Association. Allenback serves on the District Curriculum Leadership Team and is proud of the work accomplished by the team to upgrade the Social Studies curriculum.
Allenback resides in New Britain, Connecticut.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.