“The obligation and importance and significance of helping to shape the world around you is so imperative. It’s like voting; if you don’t do it because you think someone else will do it, ultimately it means no one does it. Watkinson supported me in making sure that the change I want to see happens. Watkinson taught me that I have the power to shift the lives of my family, my son, the families I work with, my colleagues, and so on."
Allan H. C. Rogers '10
Allan H. C. Rogers ’10 entered Watkinson as a seventh grader. When he began high school, he was sure he wanted to be an architect. By the time he graduated he’d changed his mind, “After my six years at Watkinson, I knew that instead of being a builder of buildings, I wanted to be a builder of people.”
REFLECTING ON HIS TIME AT WATKINSON
“Lots of soul searching happened within the walls of the six buildings at Watkinson. The school intentionally creates opportunities for students and teachers to identify their self worth. Watkinson allows children to be comfortable with their genuine selves. Let’s face it, faking it is exhausting. The energy you spend faking it takes away from doing the work you are being asked to do. Watkinson helped me to be confident enough to take my authentic self to college….some of my classmates were still trying to figure that out during their freshman and sophomore years.”
When life gets hard, and it always does, Allan says, “My mind goes to the part of Watkinson’s mission that talks about having the power to help shape the world around you. The obligation and importance and significance of helping to shape the world around you is so imperative. It’s like voting; if you don’t do it because you think someone else will do it, ultimately it means no one does it. Watkinson supported me in making sure that the change I want to see happens. Watkinson taught me that I have the power to shift the lives of my family, my son, the families I work with, my colleagues, and so on. On the hard days, I am hardwired to help them realize their own power, give them support, and lead by example.
“I have come to realize the community you keep close to you plays a huge role in the trajectory of your life. I learned this from my advisor, Sandy Garcia. She taught me the importance of relationships that you can trust. And I remember specifically that Mr. Bracker made it possible for me to get into the Hartford Leadership Program where I helped identify issues in the city that could be addressed by and ultimately help the city.”
“Watkinson is special; no other space I’ve been a part of matches Watkinson School’s culture of caring.”
THE PATH TO ADVOCACY WORK
Allan is currently the Advocacy Director for the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project in Washington, D.C. “My work takes me to shelter sites to give safe spaces for kids and families to play and interact.” Through transformative play experiences, Playtime Project aims to cultivate resilience in children experiencing family homelessness.
Allan’s journey to advocacy work started in the classroom. He comes from six generations of educators and vowed not to go that route having seen his family members struggle on a teacher’s salary. While a senior at Connecticut College, where he majored in political science and government, Allan was aggressively recruited by Teach for America. Deciding to take the opportunity before him, Allan asked to go to an area of need in the US who had endured historical disinvestment and the school to prison pipeline.
Allan was sent to South Louisiana. “My training was teaching pre-kindergarten in Mississippi. Then I taught 3rd-5th grade for five years in Louisiana. I was serving a population plagued by extreme poverty, evidenced by no running water in homes, moments where students were sent to school in dirty uniforms, and limited access to transportation or electricity. As a matter of course, I began to advocate for the families I was serving. My position as a teacher gave me both a unique vantage point to understand the ways the lack of resources, and lack of government-based support and intervention, were the after effects of Jim Crow Laws and White Supremacy that still impact the deep south.”
At this point, Allan started to work with the Louisiana Department of Education to create access for families. His work included using the parish website to help families understand the information and their rights to access the services afforded to them, as well as creating newsletters so schools and families were aware of national legislation updates.
After that, he became Dean of Students for University Prep Elementary in Baton Rouge. “Much of my work focused on bringing back Restorative Justice programs for kids. A student’s 3rd-grade reading level directly correlates to being unhoused and a host of other situations that tend to lead students in the wrong direction, potentially even incarceration. Community saves a lot of kids. Restorative Justice programs bring in all sides of a story and intentionally include families, community leaders, and teachers. And the kids feel supported. Restorative Justice programs put systems in place to keep kids moving in the right direction instead of being stuck with records that impact them for the rest of their academic lives.”
At this time, Allan moved to Washington, D.C. (he had done an internship there in his junior year at Connecticut College and fell in love with the city) and a job at the U.S. Department of Education came shortly after; it was a position that focused on effective educator development. His job was finding colleges, universities, and schools that needed resources and support to develop their educators. His role provided access to schools that historically didn’t know these types of transformative grants or matching funds were even available.
While Allan loves D.C, he doesn’t love the bureaucracy. He is confident that in the long run, his work will remain focused on face-to-face interactions with people who need help and creating pathways for future leaders to have a space to grow.
Allan married his wife, Chelsey, in 2018; the two met when Allan began working for Teach for America. They have a 9-month old son, Miles H. G. Rogers.