By Chris Cox
For McAlester Spanish teacher Yvonne Allford, you could say teaching is in her blood.
“My parents were teachers and so I grew up in the classroom,” she says. “My mom was an elementary teacher, and my dad was a junior high history teacher. The joke was my parents thought I’d go either elementary or junior high and when I decided to go high school they were like ‘Oh no! That’s not good.’ And I was like ‘yes, that’s what I want to do!’”
When asked why she chose to teach Spanish, Ms. Allford said it was a combination of things.
“I was born in Puerto Rico and my mom is Puerto Rican,” she says. “So, I grew up visiting the island every summer and was drawn to the language, obviously. But, beyond that, my high school Spanish teacher, Mr. Gonzales, made an impact in my life and on the language.”
While she wanted to be a teacher from an early age, it was another profession that brought Ms. Allford to McAlester.
“I was also a gymnastics instructor on the side and thought I might change my career,” she said. “I picked up a magazine and saw a job opening at a Girls, Inc gym in McAlester. I decided to pack my stuff up and come up here for a year and not teach. But Dr. James, the assistant superintendent at the time, called me and asked me to interview for a job opening. I didn’t really want to teach but I interviewed and now I’ve been here 28 years.”
After nearly giving up on teaching, what reignited her passion for the profession? She says it was the reward of watching her students grow throughout high school and beyond graduation.
“The most rewarding thing is seeing my students in the classroom and their achievements and growth,” she says. “After that, seeing what they are doing in college and their career. Even if they aren’t using Spanish.”
Congratulations to Yvonne Allford, the McAlester High School Teacher of the Month!