An experience happened to then classroom instructor Larry Allen in 1980 that still influences his teaching today. Mr. Allen was teaching GED classes, as his first position at Sandhills Community College. A new student told him, “I have driven by that Sandhills sign at the entrance to campus every day for five years and never had the courage to pull in. Finally, one day I did. But if one person had said anything cross to me, I would have left in tears.”
She told Mr. Allen that everyone–from the parking lot attendant to Mr. Allen himself—had been welcoming. The student went on to earn her GED and to convince her husband, who was illiterate at the time, to do the same.
“You know, things like that don’t happen on the campus of Duke or Harvard,” Mr. Allen says. “Time and again, I have seen how this place is people’s best shot at a better future.”
Mr. Allen has served at Sandhills ever since 1980, including more than a decade in administration when President Raymond Stone convinced him to become director of public relations and development. “Dr. Stone had asked all faculty members to write an essay on Sandhills, and what I wrote led him to offer me the job,” he recalls.
But after 11 years in various administration roles, Mr. Allen wanted to return to the classroom and in 1992 joined the English Department faculty. He was appointed as Chair of the English and Humanities Department in 2008 and served until he retired in 2010, growing and improving the department’s programs. But he remains a part-time member of the faculty, teaching English Composition and American Literature.
“Sandhills’ students are very motivated. Often they’re the first in their family to go to college. Many have been displaced from a manufacturing job and need to learn new skills,” he says. “Improving these students’ lives makes teaching such a worthwhile endeavor.”