Allison Rowles, learning support teacher at Bellefonte Area Middle School
Allison Rowles hopes that when students come to her class for the first time, they can feel comfortable. That’s why the longtime math and sixth-grade learning support teacher hangs up a bulletin board in her room at Bellefonte Area Middle School with information that shows students just who she is outside of class – a woman who cherishes family and enjoys being active.
After all, she said relating to students can often help forge a connection with them and therefore build the confidence they need to succeed.
“It helps me become more relatable with students because the first day they’re scared and not sure what to expect, so I tell them about myself,” she said. “I try to be open with my students and tell them things they want to know, even when they ask silly stuff like, ‘how old are you?’ and, ‘what kind of car do you drive?’”
Learning support is a program that helps students identified with learning disabilities be successful in the classroom.
“I feel like being in this role, you’re more than an educator,” she said. “My hopes for them is that they can become a little more confident with themselves, because I think by the time they come to sixth grade, they’ve struggled for so long and say, ‘I don’t want to be here anymore.’ My hope each year is that by the end of the year they can feel more confident in their abilities academically, and their ability to be independent.”
As challenging as it is rewarding, Rowles said the best part of her job is hearing about the lives she’s positively affected.
“The past couple years I’ve had some kids who have been challenging,” she said. “Last year, I had a boy who struggled to be in the classroom and get his work done, and by the end of the year, I finally felt like we were making progress and he said, ‘Mrs. Rowles, I’m glad you were here this year.’ That made me feel like we really accomplished something good. It’s hard to see the success sometimes, but when they say something like that, then I feel like, ‘yes! We’ve done something right.’”
Rowles was hired at the Bellefonte Area School District about nine years ago after graduating from Saint Francis University in 2007. There, she graduated with degrees in elementary and special education.
Outside of school, Rowles, of Philipsburg, is the mother of a 3-year-old son, Kyler. She and her husband, Craig, are also very active participating together in races and playing on a weekly adult volleyball team. On Oct. 21, Rowles is participating in her first half marathon in Hershey with her brothers. It’s something she’s trained for since August.