Seth Allred: Every day counts for education
Seth Allred says his long-term goal is to take good care of the short-term. "You have to realize that one day in school is one day that children will never get back," he explains.
As principal of Sally Mauro Elementary School in Helper, he wants those days to add up to 100 percent satisfaction for parents and students.
Mr. Allred is quick to emphasize that he gets plenty of support from both teachers and Carbon School District administrators in achieving that goal.
What he appreciates at the district level is the ongoing research and implementation of progressive teaching niques. As an example, he cites the Professional Learning Committees created during the administration of Superintendent David Armstrong and continued under Patsy Bueno. These committees bring teachers together formally to share ideas for improvement. Some of these committees are "horizontal," in which teachers of a certain grade or subject get together. Others are vertical, where teachers at a junior high will meet with their counterparts at the high school.
This means that transitions from one grade to another, or one school to another, are much smoother than in the past.
The support from teachers is in their professionalism. Sally Mauro teachers have worked so well together over the years that they have created a "family feeling" in the school, he says. "They don't just work together. They play together, too," he notes.
That collaboration has been and will be important in confronting the two big challenges facing Sally Mauro: growth and teacher turnover. When he came to the school three years ago, there were about 350 students enrolled. This year there are 470. As elsewhere in the district, veteran teachers are retiring, which means that about half his teachers this year have six years or less experience in the profession.
Mr. Allred says he understands what a challenge it is to begin teaching, or to change positions in the profession. He began teaching at East Carbon High School after earning not one but two bachelor's degrees at Weber State University. The first diploma was for Wildlife Management and Law Enforcement. But he soon realized he did not want that as a career, and decided that since he enjoyed the relationships he had had with his professors, he wanted to try education. So he went back to school and picked up the teaching degree. He later earned is master's degree from Utah State University.
At East Carbon he taught science and coached wrestling, baseball and volleyball. He was vice principal when the school closed, so he transferred to Mont Harmon Junior High School, again working as science teacher and coach.
It was a big change to move into elementary education, he recalls. "It was a whole new world," he says, "because in secondary education it's all about subject. Elementary is about teaching methods."
As with other principals, he is waiting to see what new state and federal guidelines are going to look like. He explains that he has no problems with standardized education. "You need standards. It would be chaos without them, especially given our mobile society," he says. A Sally Mauro student could wind up in another town or another state, while newcomers are just as likely to show up at his school.