Alumni Spotlight: Allana Matthews ’12

Allana Matthews graduated in 2012 from Lexington Christian Academy. She attended UMass Amherst and is currently a Masters Degree candidate at Boston University earning a dual-degree in Social Work (MSW, LICSW) and Educational Leadership and Policy (E.dM) on the principal licensure track. Additionally, she is an Accelerated Community to Teacher (ACTT) Fellow and is completing her licensure to become a High School English Teacher. Allana is currently the Operations Coordinator at an Elementary School in Roxbury, MA within Boston Public Schools Network.  

What activities were you involved in while at LCA?

I was the Athletic Trainer’s Teacher’s Assistant (TA) for all four years of High School as well as the TA for Mr. Watts. During my senior year, I served as the Chaplain prefect and I sang in Chorale and the Chamber Singers. I still use the skills learned during interim week(s) as well: I bake, make flower arrangements and my construction skills aren’t bad either (lol).

Tell us about your role and responsibilities at Boston Public Schools

Currently, I serve as the Operations Coordinator at an Elementary School within the Boston Public Schools Network. Although this is not my first year working with BPS, this is my first year within this specific role. 

What is a normal day like in your line of work?

At the moment, there is truly no such thing as ‘normal’ but during a typical day starts for me at 8:30 AM. 

  • BREAKFAST Arrival and breakfast begin promptly. I oversee student entry until late arrival ends (10:30 AM). Due to COVID regulations, there are separate entrances for all our students. I have gloves, extra masks, sanitizer and a no-contact thermometer with me at all times at my entrance to make sure all students are safe to enter the building. 
  • DAILY TASKS Throughout the day, my teammates and myself all carry walkie talkies and can be called at any time to help with anything (i.e. more PPE supplies, early student dismissal from a classroom, student in distress, student restraint need etc.)
  • DISMISSAL I am responsible for calling buses as well as sweeping classrooms for any students that may have missed a bus after the last call.

There are many other tasks that arise in the moment that I am asked to handle, and every day brings something new.

What are the most challenging aspects of your current job?

Understanding that there are just some needs that I will not be able to meet for my students. I work in a school with a demographic of 99% black/students of color with 85% of those students homeless (no permanent address). There have been moments that I make sure a student has what they need even if that means using personal resources to do so, but that is neither realistic nor sustainable to practice continuously and there are moments where I have to process that for myself in a quiet space; it weighs very heavily on my heart quite often. Additionally, I am the graduate Social Work Intern for my school and getting to know the deeper life stories to some of my students is deeply emotional labor. It takes a toll on me some days for sure. 

What is your favorite part of your job?

I absolutely LOVE my students! There is never a dull moment with them. I have students between the ages of 4 and 13 so the spectrum of daily comedic relief is quite broad. I also love doing the bulletin boards around the school! 

What would you say are the top requirements for someone entering this line of work?

I would say the top three requirements are assertiveness, organization, being a self-starter, consistency and integrity. In a public school/in public education, you must be able to hold your own. There are stipulations surrounding every decision made and every piece of paper that crosses your desk. It’s a machine that is so much bigger than yourself and before going into the profession, you have to know that you are able to advocate for yourself and your students, you are organized and keep track of important information always, you are able to see a need, fill it and get on to the next thing, you are consistent in your work and your product and you carry yourself with integrity. Whether in front of your classroom or behind closed doors, the power of your name and impact must never change.

Which LCA faculty member(s) impacted you the most while at LCA?

Without question, Mrs. Elliott (12th grade English Teacher), Mrs. Wright (Athletic Trainer) and Mrs. Burns (School Nurse). I have such deep amounts of appreciation for each of these women; more than I think I’ve ever expressed to them personally. I went through a lot that I never expressed to anyone while I was at LCA and in the presence of these women, it felt like those worries melted. Each of them, in unique ways, have aided me into the place that I’m in now. I will never forget these women–ever. Thank you. 

How does your faith impact your work?

Just like any other space, it is truly a mission field. There are many people who go to church or pray or grew up in the faith or come from a praying family, but there are just as many who’d have to convince you of any of those things based on their behavior. I carry my faith in the way I treat others, the way I love my students and the passion in my work; there are many faculty who have asked about my belief and I freely share my faith with them in that manner.  

If you could offer one piece of career advice to students, what would it be?

No one arrives where they’re at by themselves–it’s okay to ask for help. It’s also okay not to know what you want to do for the rest of your life. (The truth is, you could be here for a while, so get comfy 🙂 ) Try out different things if it’s not feeling quite right. It’s okay! Where your passion(s) meet your purpose is where your calling lies and where His will for you dwells.

When you think you’ve settled and found that sweet spot, get your walking shoes ready because He always wants you to be at your best (which means you may have to move). Go with it and let him lead. By no means am I saying this is easy but please, believe me when I say, it is so worth it.

Listening to the calling of the Lord on your life will put you in positions and place you in rooms you would’ve never even known existed, let alone be welcomed into. Walk into your greatness and favor, wherever and whatever that working environment looks like.