Harrison High School biology teacher Paulette Allard rode what she called a Zamboni into the gym as students cheered for their teacher who was recently named their school’s Teacher of the Year. She thought it was the highlight of her Friday until Superintendent Chris Ragsdale made a surprise appearance at the pep rally to announce Allard as the Cobb County School District Teacher of the Year!
“You can tell that Paulette genuinely cares about her job and the job she does in the classroom,” Superintendent Ragsdale said. “It was awesome for her to be chosen as the District Teacher of the Year because it means a lot to her. You can hear from the students that they see she cares about their future, and that sums up what makes a great teacher.”
Allard knew she was being honored during the school’s first pep rally of the year, and had asked to ride the Zamboni-like floor polisher into the gym in place of having her own parking space as the Harrison’s Teacher of Year.
So, it was understandable that Allard was filled with emotion after the announcement that she was the top teacher for the entire district.
“I was surprised. I was excited. I was really excited that the students I had worked with the past few years were sitting in the stands,” said Allard.
Principal Ashlynn Campbell says what really sets Allard apart from her peers is that she goes out of her way to help other teachers, and she is great at making learning relevant for her students.
“She is so innovative. She integrates technology, and she does a great job of making connections with her students in her science class,” added Campbell. “She has a constant connection to the modern world, which is so important.”
Allard said she didn’t come to teaching through the traditional route. She first served in the U.S. Army as a nurse and then she worked in genetics research prior to becoming a teacher. She credited her past experience as contributing to her success as an educator.
“I keep it real for my students,” Allard said. “I give them that real-life experience.”
One of her former students, Harrison senior Jennifer Tull, said Allard’s stories of real-life situations have inspired her to go on to college and study medicine.
“I know how much work Ms. Allard puts into everything,” Tull said. “She is a teacher, but she is also one of the club sponsors, and she is involved with so many aspects of the Harrison community that seeing her finally be recognized for all that she does is truly amazing.”