Originally posted September 17, 2014.
Many new faces join the Millersville University yearly, yearning for knowledge and cycling out those who have already earned their degrees. During this time, students worry about making friends, fitting in, joining clubs and just enjoying their college experience. It’s not widely recognized when a new teacher joins the crowd of 8,500 people attending Millersville.
One of the new professors this year is Allen Howell, choral music teacher. Howell started this year after transferring from Edinboro University, located near Erie, Pa., after the school made cuts to the music and philosophy programs.
Despite moving to a new area, Howell openly admits he’s a positive person. “I think Millersville is great, and I feel blessed to be here,” Howell said. “I have noticed that it can be tough to get new initiatives going in Erie County but around here, particularly in Lancaster City, I can feel lots of new ideas starting to take shape. I am hoping to become part of the community, here, and to help get things going.”
Since being in Lancaster, Howell has already found his niche in things such as Tae Kwon Do, bodybuilding, riding his black Harley and hitting up eateries. “I like to socialize, I like to be out and about,” he said.
For now, he teaches general education classes with more than 50 students a piece, and also directs the Marauder’s Men’s Glee Club. “I’m already hip-deep,” Howell said about getting involved with Millersville, mentioning his involvements as an advisor for National Association for Music Education and American Choral Directors Association. “Students have been very nice, supportive and encouraging,” he said.
While many teachers take a linear approach to teaching, Howell openly admits that he hasn’t adopted that style. “My teaching style is wide open,” he said. “I can’t get off track, because I don’t have a track.”
He aims to focus on student-directed learning, saying, “I’m intensely interested in what the students want to learn.” He tries to accommodate to that philosophy instead of just teaching them what he wants. “[I want to teach them] what they need to live successfully, however they define that… I proceed to facilitate that; it helps them teach themselves,” Howell said.
Howell said he doesn’t want to make students feel as if they’re just “jumping through the hoops,” like he had to go through. Howell wants his students to leave with a sense of context, and why this all matters in the grand scheme of things. “[I want] context in the big picture, so I would give them something that would actually have meaning in their life,” Howell said.
Many things Howell teaches don’t fit the arguably normal, unwritten sense of conformity other teachers implement during instruction. He believes that education is one of the most important things, especially for those going into college.
“It’s a real challenge to make sure that we’re still educating, not [just worrying about] making money… [We should] keep the prime mission [as] educating students, not making money,” Howell said, expressing concern with other schools. “When you make major cuts, you’re changing the mission,” he said, referring to his experiences with Edinboro. “I don’t want to move again; I want to retire here… I want to stay here.”
It’s because of this passion that he finds his home here at Millersville University.
Howell is vocal with his ideas, and is willing to go above and beyond to help a student out. “If the prime directive is about the expansion of student’s minds, then the bottom line can’t be the bottom line.”