No. 51 on the Monmouth College football field keeps science, math and a passion for teaching close to his heart.
James Allen, a junior from Streator and a starting guard for last season’s conference champions, is studying to become a junior high or high school math teacher. He hopes to integrate his love for football into that career by also coaching at his future school.
As talented as he is on the field, Allen also shows a special knack for teaching. This summer, with the help of a student from the University of Illinois, Allen ran a Golden Apple Scholars camp sponsored by the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (IMSA) in Aurora for nearly 50 students.
The camp encourages middle school students to explore topics that aren’t always addressed within their regular science classrooms. Allen guided the students through numerous activities that challenged them to use every scientific strategy that they could imagine. On the day a reporter visited, the students were busy creating roller coasters out of yardsticks, manila folders and duct tape.
As a middle school student, Allen took part in a similar summer camp. “It was my idea to start this camp to get more hands on teaching experiences for us, and the product is really amazing,” he said. “The students see things done in different ways than they would in schools.”
While helping students broaden their horizons in the world of science, math and technology, Allen used the five-week camp experience to build his teaching skills substantially.
“It is similar to student teaching in that we are the teachers for the day,” he said. “We got no help and designed the lessons ourselves.”
“James has consistently demonstrated exceptional leadership skills both on the field and in the classroom,” said associate professor of educational studies Tom Sargent. “Given his talent and unique experience, James will soon be a remarkable addition to the teaching profession.”
In exchange for his Golden Apple scholarship, Allen has committed to teaching for five years at a school in need following his college graduation. But before he becomes “Mr. Allen” to roomfuls of future students, opening their minds to the world of math and science, he hopes to enjoy two more seasons as No. 51 on the Fighting Scots, opening holes in the opposing defense.