Brookwood High School teacher Ashley Allgood works with students Austin Bond and Alex Durso in her Latin class as they match active and passive verbs to the definitions. Allgood was named one of six finalists for the GCPS annual teacher of the year award that will be announced at a banquet on Thursday. (Special Photo)
Editor’s Note: This is the third in a six-part series profiling the Teacher of the Year finalists for Gwinnett County Public Schools.
When Ashley Allgood learned about the possibility she could be named Teacher of the Year at her school, Brookwood High, she was encouraged to prepare a speech.
But Allgood didn’t think that was necessary because of the other talented teachers around the school; Allgood figured she wouldn’t be chosen. Well, Allgood did, in fact, need a speech, prepared or not, and it’s become somewhat of a pattern this fall. She continues to be honored, and continues to be surprised and flabbergasted.
“I didn’t realize just doing what I do everyday set me apart,” she said. “I was just doing the best I could, and to get recognition for that was really exciting.”
The news didn’t appear to surprise Allgood’s students, as they have taken to calling her “Teacher of the Universe.”
Allgood, who teaches Latin and is a Junior Classical League sponsor, is one of six finalists for the Gwinnett County Public Schools annual Teacher of the Year award that will be announced at a banquet on Thursday.
“Ashley is one of the most dynamic teachers I have seen in my career,” Brookwood Principal Debra Dees said. “She is one of those teachers who has the ability to help students achieve more than their own perceived capabilities. She makes learning fun.”
Some of the ways Allgood does that is to play songs and use hands-on activities. When they learned Allgood was honored, she said her Latin 3 students made a cake with her face on it.
“When people think Latin, they think dead language,” she said. “I don’t think they realize how fun the class could be if the teacher puts in a little effort.”
Outside of her classroom, Allgood helps with the school’s marching band, and along with the Latin Club, she also takes students on trips to Italy. About 500 students take Latin at Brookwood from three teachers, and the club is one of the largest in the state, Allgood said. It’s part of a thriving Foreign Language Department at Brookwood.
“She develops tremendous connections with kids in the classroom and with her involvement in extracurricular activities,” Dees said. “Ashley cares that our students not only have a positive experience in the classroom, but in other facets of school life.”
When she was a junior at Pope High School, Allgood’s Latin teacher retired. That, she said, is when she knew she wanted to be a Latin teacher.
“I’ve never wavered, and known this is where I’m supposed to be,” she said. “I think it’s very exciting to see the kids at the age they are, and to expose them to a different culture and way of life is very exciting.”
Even as young as 2-years-old, Allgood showed glimpses of being a teacher. Allgood recalled her mother saying that she would take attendance of her stuffed animals and give handouts.
Allgood has been an educator for eight years, all with GCPS, and said she’s improved through professional development to gain new ideas.
“I like to think I’ve always had the same enthusiasm and drive,” Allgood said. “But now that I’ve attended professional development and learned new ideas and ways to present it, I’ve been a more effective teacher, and more creative teacher.”
And she has no plans to leave anytime soon.
“I hope I’m 80-years-old with my walker and cane being over the top and enthusiastic,” she said.