By Ariana Pedraza
Newsome High School’s orchestra director, Christopher Allen, was recently nominated for the Manilow Music Teacher Award. Presented by The Manilow Music Project, the award is given to music teachers who show and share their passion for music with their students; the final prize includes $10,000-$5,000 in cash and $5,000 to be used to benefit the program in ways such as the purchase of new instruments.
Allen began his teaching career with six years of teaching at Title I elementary schools, where he taught general music with a focus on giving kids a safe space where they could feel comfortable. He later began teaching at Newsome High School, where he has been teaching for 13 years.
He started as one of the two band directors at the time but shifted his focus to the orchestra program, which only had one class period and no official director. With his focused attention, the program grew to two classes. He soon stopped teaching band to teach orchestra full time. To do so, Allen also taught classes such as AP Music Theory, Music Appreciation and Guitar. As the program grew from 24 people to 144 at its largest, Allen worked to make the orchestra a standing organization.
Allen enjoys teaching orchestra and aims to grow the program even more in the future, as well as foster a feeling of family in the program.
“My favorite part about teaching is watching kids grow, especially those that are especially introverted. I get to watch them make friends and grow comfortable in the years that I have them in the program, and by the time they are seniors they are much more open than when they started,” Allen said.
Allen expressed that his nomination for this award means a lot to him and the program: “It is not often that an orchestra program gets recognized this way, as they are not often as out in the community as other music programs are. It is great for the program to be recognized that way, and me as the leader of that program.”