Local Schools

Gardendale Teacher Spotlight – Zay Allen

Smart, tough and a gifted teacher, that’s Zay Allen. This publisher has known Zay Allen for years. We met because our sons are friends and in the same grade at Bragg Middle School.

Zay is deeply committed to God, her family and teaching. Her husband is a pastor. She has wonderful kids.

Some people in life you just like. I like Zay Allen. Gardendale is fortunate you “teach like your life depends on it.”

Treye Hanner: Tell us a little about you and how you decided to become a teacher?

Zay Allen: I’ve been teaching physical science for almost twenty-two years with the last fourteen years at Bragg.   I started my career in Tuscaloosa, AL after I finished my Masters Degree in Comprehensive Science at the University of Alabama.  As I always tell my students, I really love science!

With this love of science, I began my undergraduate degree with hopes of being a pediatrician.  After working at a doctor’s office and listening to the Lord, I was led to become a science teacher that would inspire many children to enter the medical field and become doctors.  The Lord has been very faithful to His promise over the years.

I have been married to Pastor Darren Allen for 26 years and we have 2 children, Zoe and Zion.  Zoe is a sophomore at Alabama A&M University and Zion is an eighth grader at Bragg.

Treye Hanner: What is your favorite part of being a teacher?

Zay Allen: I love challenging my students to learn things that they never thought were possible.  When most students hear the words “chemistry” and “physics” they get weak in the knees.  I believe it is my task as a teacher to make the complex simple.  I have been known to have my students act, dance, and sing to gain valuable science content.

Treye Hanner: Are there special moments where you say to yourself, “this is why I teach?”

Zay Allen: I once had a student share with me that he remembered my seatbelt lesson.  He said he would not allow any of his friends to ride in his car without them wearing one.  Application of a lesson is one of the highest levels of learning.  This lesson could also save his life.  I always say, “teach like your life depends on it.”

I want my students to learn like their lives depend on it.

Treye Hanner: What challenges have you experienced while having to teach through the pandemic?

Zay Allen: I would definitely have to say the time demand and the need to make sure my students have the best opportunity to learn during a difficult situation has been my biggest challenge.

Teaching during the pandemic and using more technology has been a blessing and a curse.  I find myself always working on my computer to research, organize, prepare and grade lessons.  I also continue to respond to emails, calls, and texts, at all times, during the day and night.   Although, this has been a demanding process, I’m definitely up for the challenge. On the other hand, I have improved my use of technology and my ability to reach my students.  I now know that we have a new normal and school is no longer just a building!

Treye Hanner: What’s the one thing you would like people to know about teachers?

Zay Allen: I would love for everyone to consider how much multitasking a teacher does in one day in the classroom.  Sometimes, it feels like I am spinning plates trying not to let them crash. This provides for a high level of stress.

Most teachers are self-motivated and truly want the best for their students. When our students are not doing well in our classes, we are not doing well.  We worry and seek to find solutions to help them gain success in our classes and life.

Remember, I teach like my life depends on it because my future, your future, our future truly depends on it!