20 Under 40 Feature: Allen BeardenPublished 3:31pm Monday, July 29, 2013
One teacher at the School of Discovery has a unique passion for Selma that comes with growing up in the community and having a relationship that is deeper than surface-level with many of the people around him.
Allen Bearden teaches Earth science to middle school students and has an overarching vision for Selma’s growth and prosperity he tries to execute through teaching children to think in new ways.
Bearden returned to Selma after graduating from Auburn University and began his teaching career. Though he considered other places, he decided Selma was a unique place where he could give his students unique and new opportunities.
“I think Selma is at a position where there are conversations that can happen here as far as race, class and poverty that maybe can’t happen in other places,” Bearden said. “I think with our history, there is progress we can make here that maybe can’t be made in other places.”
Bearden also believes in the potential Selma has in cultivating natural resources and alternative energy. He said he forsees a new day coming for Selma, and opportunities in the community are still left unrealized — opportunities he wants to be a part in harnessing.
He said, for his student’s education and for the future of Selma, it is best to give students a hands-on education they can use for application in all different areas. He wants to reform the education he gives them by teaching them critical thinking and decision making so that they are prepared for all walks of life.
“I think we do a disservice to a lot of children by forcing them into college or just preparing them for goal X,” Bearden said. “You have to prepare children on how to choose between A, B, C and D, to take whatever path they want and to give them whatever skills they need to figure out what they want. We need children here to develop those skills of being independent thinkers and problem solvers in addition to strong backgrounds in reading and math.”
Bearden teaches his students all about hurricanes, air pressure, weather patterns and fossils, but his goal is to spark something in them much deeper — those decision making skills that can help Selma grow overall.
“I want Selma to be a place where we can all find our own space to raise our families, to make a living and just enjoy and learn from each other — with emphasis on learning from each other,” he said. “I think there are stories and knowledge and a past that we all can benefit from, and I think those walls are breaking down. I hope that continues.”