Area teacher retires after 30 years
One of Trafalgar Middle School’s health and physical education teachers is trading in her grade book and whistle today to embark on a four-month expeditionary trip to Alaska.
After 30 years of service in the Lee County School District, Vickie Allender is retiring this week and traveling to Talkeetna, Alaska, to work guest relations at a resort.
Located on the base of Denali, also known as Mt. McKinley, the village is situated near the Alaskan wilderness with opportunities for hiking, fishing or skiing.
“It will be a fun adventure and something I’ve always wanted to do,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to be an Alaskan girl.”
Allender moved to Lee County from New Jersey 30 years ago and started working at LaBelle Elementary. Soon she transferred to Suncoast Middle School, now the North Fort Myers Academy of the Arts, and worked there as a teacher and assistant principal for 15 years.
“Suncoast was a whole different scenario,” Allender said. “When you are an AP (assistant principal) of discipline, anything can happen.”
Working as an assistant principal was difficult, she said, and after earning her master’s degree from Florida Atlantic University, she went to work at Trafalgar Middle School as a health and physical education teacher.
“I decided to work at the number one school in Lee County,” she said. “It’s like a full circle, I started in PE and ended in PE.”
Over the last three decades Allender has impacted the lives of 26,000 students who have grown up to enter the real world as lawyers or nurses. Unlike some who may have left the profession burned out or bitter, Allender said she has no regrets.
“It has been a very fulfilling career and something I’ve always wanted to do since I was in the sixth grade,” she said.
The school district has changed a lot in the pats 30 years, Allender said, from a place where schools could not hire enough teachers to the economic downfall of the past two years.
“This is a bleak moment in time for Lee County,” she said. “When I first came in we were flourishing, but overall in my 30 years of experience I believe Lee County will rebound.”
Allender emphasized that it was the dedication of her administrators and fellow teachers that helped her succeed and prevail throughout her career.
Once she arrives in Alaska she plans on taking expeditions to the Arctic Circle and across the Denali National Park, as well as embark on her own trips through the wilderness.
Her goal is to prodigiously take photographs and record video that can be replayed for the students at Trafalgar.
Allender said that in the future she would like to volunteer for the John Halgrim Foundation by teaching children in Africa.
Halgrim, who passed away from cancer in 2007, asked the Make-A-Wish foundation to help struggling students in Nairobi, Kenya, by founding an orphanage.
Vickie’s husband, Bob Allender, is a sixth-grade teacher at Trafalgar Middle and will retire in two years.
“It is wonderful to know that this is not the end to a successful career, but a beginning to move on to fulfill other lifelong dreams, adventures and endeavors,” he said.