Student Journalism at San Rafael High School

Off the Leash

Off the Leash

Off the Leash

Cold War, Warm Smile

Daniel Allen inspires the young “deadbeats” of SRHS.
Cold War, Warm Smile

As a U.S. history teacher at San Rafael High School, Daniel Allen looks to create a trusting, safe, and fun learning environment in his classroom. With a wall littered with sports memorabilia and Sci-Fi movie posters, his decorated classroom introduces his character before he even says a word. The rows of senior portraits from years past reassure you that all the great things you have heard about him are probably true. With his cool leather jackets and an always clean pair of sneakers coupled with an animated and sarcastic personality, Mr. Allen seems like a teacher you can relate to. 

“He communicated with us on a level that felt very welcoming and relaxed,” says Anthony Genolio, a student in Allen’s 2022 APUSH class. 

“He actually communicates with us like young adults, not like children,” says Ava Fernandez, another former student. 

As a father, he gives the impression he also understands and empathizes with students about the busy schedules they are all trying to balance. “I don’t think grades are everything, I don’t take it personally [when someone isn’t doing well in the class],” says Mr. Allen. ”It’s just a snapshot of where they are at that moment. I understand that being 15, 16, 17 is hard, even 30 is hard.” 

Mr. Allen conveys a sense of relatability which makes students feel heard in his class. With an interest in people and tons of curiosity, Mr. Allen is able to make any person feel as if they have an interesting thing to say, just by asking questions and listening. This is a huge factor in why so many students say they love his class.

Mr. Winton, a fellow teacher at San Rafael and a great friend of Mr. Allen, described him as “loyal, selfless, and [someone who] would go out of his way to help.” Winton explained that Allen rewrote some of the US. History curriculum to display more African-American history within the class. “He travels to conferences around the states because he is genuinely curious about the way others teach and how he can improve in the classroom,” Said Winton. Overall Mr. Allen has shown hard work and dedication to create the best classroom environment he can for his students. 

Despite this reputation, Mr. Allen’s path along the way was bumpy and an unconventional one. He grew up in Richmond, California in a family who didn’t push for a four-year college education.

“My mom wanted me to work at the post office, and I didn’t really have many choices,” Mr. Allen said regarding his career options. A few teachers would always tell him how smart he was and how much potential he could have in school, but with little pressure and care, Mr. Allen finished high school with not much of a plan. He found work coaching his high school freshman football team alongside his father.

 “Working with younger students and teaching them skills was probably part of the reason I saw teaching [as a career],” explained Allen.

After coaching he decided to go to Richmond Community College, which he described as the best decision he could have ever made. Mr. Allen found a passion and curiosity to learn new things and push himself to new academic achievements. With a plan to move on from community college, he made sure to meet with his counselor for the first time in his college career. From here he chose to finish his academic career at SFSU. Finishing college and earning a master’s in U.S. History made it easy for him to find his first job at no other than Richmond High School from where he had recently graduated. Unfortunately he was laid off after his first year, but fortunately for the SRHS community, he found a job here. Mr. Allen has worked here now for 19 strong years and plans to stay for 14 more. 

Originating from Richmond, Mr. Allen explained how even though he has worked here for many years he doesn’t quite feel like part of the SRHS community.

 “All of my friends and family are back in Richmond you know?” he said. Many students from years past have valued Mr. Allen as a very important person within our community. He is a teacher any student would be really lucky to have. 

“He cared about everyone in the class, not just the ones who participated the most, he would always be interested in others’ lives and well-being,” Marcos Tolliver, a senior at SRHS commented on his time in Allen’s class. Many other students have displayed a very similar message of Allen, he is caring, genuine, transparent, trustworthy, and always willing to help. He has also been an inspiration to many students over the years to engage in history class much more. History was made a subject of interest by many students due to Mr Allen’s Teaching style. 

“Mr. Allen’s passion for history and reliability fueled my curiosity and made me eagerly anticipate every history class. His dedication to his students and teaching style enabled me to thrive in his class,” Ruben Roth, an honor roll student at SRHS, said. 

Throughout his tenure, Mr. Allen has created many connections and has kept in touch with many of his old students. He has attended multiple alumni college graduations and even a wedding of a student from the class of 2007. The factor that makes Mr. Allen so important to this high school is his genuine, caring, open character. Many students feel as if he is a trusted adult on campus they can go to for anything. 

“My goal is not really to develop connections with students, that’s just how I am. If I tried then wouldn’t that be fake?” Allen stated while answering whether making connections was a specific goal he aimed for. Paige Bussi, a senior at San Rafael, once opened up to Allen on the social and academic pressure she had been feeling throughout the year. The next day he printed an article out about a study that shows many high school students go through that type of experience and she wasn’t alone. This small act of kindness is just a small example of how Mr. Allen is a teacher, friend and mentor. 

Throughout his career Allen has seen and experienced many different different generations of school systems and the students along with it. When asked about how he feels about teaching today Allen fondly looks back at the past compared to the school system now. Mr Allen explained how teaching is becoming very robotic and his curriculum is always adding new subjects but never removing them. Teaching now is not what it used to be and with a school system that seems to be only numerical merit based, teaching has become a drag to him. Mr. Allen, despite all these negative factors, shows up and works hard for each and every student he has. He is a great role model of how any current teacher should operate their classroom. Mr. Allen’s value is definitely seen by students through generations and hopefully will continue to be appreciated in his time to come. 

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    Sarah PledgerNov 28, 2023 at 1:59 pm

    Great article! Mr. Allen brings so much to SR.