Inside ECS – Shaun McAllister, Mary Beck

Growing up, becoming a teacher was the last thing on Shaun McAllister’s mind. Her father was a teacher, and despite his efforts to encourage her to work in education, a rebellious streak led Shaun away from education and into criminal justice, with a focus on at-risk kids. After she finished college, she moved back home and started substitute teaching. Within a month of substitute teaching, she knew her heart was in education, with a special passion for at-risk students. These days, as the PE Teacher at Mary Beck Elementary, the lessons she learned in college are ones she keeps with her, and her dad’s advice based on decades of teaching is never more than a call or visit away.

A family-first mentality is something that Shaun holds near to her heart, both with her own family, but also with her students’ families. Within her own family, she treasures the meals they have together, and with her students’ families, she values the level of care and involvement.

“With the boundary changes at Mary Beck, we’re really focusing on our parents and neighborhood,” said Shaun. “We walk kids home, and we smile and wave at neighbors. We want them to see that Mary Beck is more than a building – we’re a bigger community. We want our neighborhood to see that they can trust us, we’re in this together.”

Shaun has been with Mary Beck for ten years and works hard to establish relationships and connections to her students and families. “We have great parents at Mary Beck. They work so hard. Some of them work multiple jobs and they are still great parents.” Shaun also speaks passionately about perceptions of Elkhart’s south side, “There’s a misperception about students, families, and people who live on the south side of Elkhart. I see parents working hard, I see kids working hard. Our kids are capable and full of potential, they want opportunity and affection, like every child deserves. Every day, our staff works their tails off – coming in early, working late – building relationships with every student, helping them become self-sufficient adults.”

Shaun credits the leadership at Mary Beck – Tracey Kizyma-Whitmyer, Eric Chandler, and Sydney Beauchamp (IUSB Lab School program supervisor) – with finding just the right team to serve the needs of students.

“Mary Beck has had many great educators during my time here. With the change in our model, it required the right balance of the right personalities. Tracey, Eric, and Sydney did a fantastic job in creating the right team for our students.”

A dedication to her students is evident, both inside and outside the classroom. When she’s not teaching PE to her students, she also coaches robotics, lacrosse, cross country, boys basketball, and girls basketball. Previously she coached volleyball and cross country for Elkhart Memorial.

When she’s not on the court at Mary Beck, she’s on the court playing competitive volleyball in a women’s league, something she has always been passionate about. But family always comes first, as evident by the two or three times a week she and her siblings gather at their parents’ house for dinner. “My dad tried to tell me that he ‘told me so’ when I became a teacher. Thankfully, he’s a really good teacher, so it’s worth the lesson to get the great advice he gives me. He has decades of experience to pull from.”

Shaun is currently reading: Her current reading focuses on learning about the Avengers with her kids at bedtime.