CYC has one of the longest-standing strategic relationships with Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) districtwide. This partnership is a crucial element to our success, and we are grateful for the many CPS personnel who augment our work every day. We are pleased to recognize one in particular, Michael Allison, as a CYC Hero because of the way he goes above and beyond not just for CYC, but for his school, his colleagues, and his students.
Michael Allison is no stranger to education. He spent years as a teacher in Cincinnati schools, became the district evaluator for all physical education and health teachers, then spent six years as Assistant Principal at South Avondale. He is now the Principal of South Avondale, a role he has filled for three years.
South Avondale is considered by many to be a high-needs school. A principal could easily burn out trying to meet the many demands of students, families, faculty, and community leaders – but not Michael. When speaking with him, he proves himself to be passionate, optimistic, proud, and you might even say inspired. He describes his job as “a positive experience, because I’m able to really hands-on impact the lives of children, and I’m able to more directly influence policy and accountability.”
He is certainly making an impact. The community around him finds no shortage of wonderful things to say about his work ethic, his style, and the environment he has nurtured.
“Mr. Allison is a very accessible principal with a concerned spirit, who is always receptive to ideas from his staff to improve our school,” says Ignatius Thornton, Lead Security of the school.
Resource Coordinator Ingrid Sandidge asserts, “Mr. Allison loves the kids here. There is nothing he wouldn’t do for them.”
But Michael will not accept too much praise without passing it on to the support he receives from his community. He expresses gratitude for the many organizations that support South Avondale, including but in no way limited to: Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, the Ronald McDonald House, Avondale Comprehensive Development Corporation, Adopt-A-Class, the First Unitarian Church of Cincinnati, The Children’s Theatre, and of course, Cincinnati Youth Collaborative.
Josephine Henderson, CYC’s Mentor Coordinator at Avondale, loves working with Michael because he truly understands the importance of mentoring when it comes to developing successful young people. “I have always been very impressed with Mr. Allison’s familiar and in-depth knowledge of each and every one of his students,” she says. “He not only knows what is going on with his students at school, he is familiar with the student’s family and community. He genuinely wants every student to succeed in life.”
This sentiment is echoed by students and teachers alike. Student and CYC mentee Lariah says, “I think he is a good principal. Mr. Allison sits by me, checks my work and says, ‘You’re doing real well.’ ” Teacher Nichole Williams confirms, “He is firm, but fair. To a lot of kids, they look up to him as a mentor.”
Michael says that even when the work is challenging and the obstacles seem large, he perseveres because of “the drive to see everyone else around me get better. When kids come back and hand me their graduation announcements from high school, and I’m able to see them get to another milestone, and they simply say thank you…” He trails off a little, as though overcome by the magnitude of those moments. But he quickly returns to his mantra of gratitude. “I appreciate everyone who has stood by me, who has stood by Avondale school, who has really believed that if we work together change is possible.”
Change is possible, Michael Allison, but only when there are passionate individuals like yourself striving for it. For the difference you have made in the lives of everyone around you, we thank you for being a CYC Hero.
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CYC Heroes is a monthly feature recognizing individuals who go above and beyond expectations to serve the CYC community. Heroes come in many shapes and sizes: mentors, students, ambassadors, employees, donors, volunteers, and board members. Know someone who makes CYC stronger? Submit your CYC Hero nomination to Kate Elliott, at firstname.lastname@example.org