By JENNIFER MEIER
THE GOSHEN NEWS
There aren’t many comedy routines around today that would garner more laughs than the Book of Golden Deeds Awards Banquet Thursday night.
The Crystal Valley Exchange Club of Middlebury honored Middlebury Community Schools Superintendent Jane Allen with the award.
Each of the speakers recounted stories that spanned Allen’s 31 years in the community, starting as a math teacher at Heritage Middle School in 1982.
Underlying every humorous moment however, was the same message — Allen loves children, has dedicated her life to making others’ lives better, and has touched many lives in positive ways.
Northridge High School senior Anna Pladson recalled a time when Allen served as principal at York Elementary.
“I often got in trouble out on recess for putting snow on the slide,” Pladson said. “I’d have to go sit on the bench. When Mrs. Allen came out — she put snow on the slide — and who’s going to tell the principal to sit the bench?”
Pladson said Allen always remembered each student.
“She remembered us and everything about us,” Pladson said. “We all thought she rocked. She was the coolest. I remember one guy said you were the bomb-diggity. So basically, Mrs. Allen, you’re the bomb-diggity!
Good friend and now retired fellow teacher Jeannine George said no one deserved the award more than Allen.
“She’s touched all of our lives,” George said. “She knows so much about motivational skills and can get the most out of the kids.”
George lauded Allen as a participant.
“You will find her at all the events, whether it’s the Science Olympiad, a sports game or a fundraiser. And she doesn’t go as a spectator, but as a participant. She really knows what’s going on. She is the best at what she does.”
A former math student of Allen’s, now Middlebury Elementary Principal Jeremy Miller, told the audience that Allen engaged the students and made math class fun.
He also remembered a time when he was home for the summer from college.
“She called and left a message that anytime I wanted to substitute teach, she would find a spot for me,” Miller said. “I never called her back. I was too scared to do that. She had more faith in me than I did at the time.”
Miller said Allen was one of a small group of people he goes to for advice.
“She still answers the phone when I call and she’s never complained!” Miller said. “You can tell she loves the kids and has made an impact as an educator and an administrator.”
School board president Joanna King said she felt privileged to know and learn from Allen.
“As a parent and school board member, I am a life long member of the Jane Allen fan club. I’ve learned so much from her example,” King said. “She invests in the youth of the community and teaches us to do that too. That is why Middlebury Community Schools is so successful.”
After serving as York Principal from 1994 to 2006, Allen became the director of curriculum and instruction in the administrative offices. Beginning in July of 2012 she was chosen as superintendent for the school system.
“When I came to this town long ago,” Allen said. “I realized that people here really knew how to give. It’s a town where we support the idea that the kids can do anything they set their minds to. And there is nothing more important than that in the whole wide world.”
She said her love for children helps her see that no matter what students do, they can learn from it and get better.
“I will believe that, I have to believe that as long as I live,” Allen said. “These golden deeds happen not because we planned them, but because we love children.”
The Book of Golden Deeds Award is an Exchange Club program that honors a worthy person or group which continuously donates time, talent and energy to help make the greater Middlebury community a better place.