October 19, 2018
When Allison Crowell arrived at Susquehanna in 2004, the middling Spanish student would have laughed at the notion of becoming an award-winning Spanish teacher in Washington, D.C.
Crowell didn't even place out of the basic-level Spanish course. Yet she discovered she loved Spanish thanks to Associate Professor of Spanish Amanda Meixell, who kept encouraging her to take more and more classes. Crowell ultimately earned two bachelor's degrees—one with a major in Spanish, the other with dual majors in music and religion.
Service trips to Nicaragua and Costa Rica and a semester studying abroad in Mérida, Mexico, sold Crowell on Spanish and urban life. A last-minute application to Teach for America led to a two-year assignment—and ultimately a permanent position—at Ballou High School, one of D.C.'s poorest public schools.
With Crowell's help, the school went from offering just two years of Spanish to offering four years with an advanced placement class. The AP class was implemented after Crowell helped raise $25,000 to fund a student trip to Spain. That was followed by a 2011 trip to Costa Rica that she partially funded with a $5,000 grant she received for winning the Linowes Leadership Award from the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region.
During the seven years Crowell spent teaching in our nation's capital, the Ballou International Education Program funded 13 different international study and service-learning trips through crowd-sourcing and grassroots fundraising efforts. It was so successful, it's no longer needed.
Crowell married in 2015 and is preparing to welcome her second daughter in fall 2018. She moved back to her hometown of Gettysburg, Pa., and works as the human resources manager at her family's fifth-generation fruit tree nursery, which has a predominantly Spanish-speaking employee base. In addition to more traditional HR responsibilities, she has offered free Spanish instruction to the office staff and ESL classes to Hispanic employees, as well as managing the company's guest worker visa programs in both Honduras and Guatemala.