Alison Al Bye class of 2012 Bear Pause

Allison Bye ‘12 can be found hiking throughout our national park system and working on her natural landscape portfolio while simultaneously trying to ascend into Mrs. Frizzle. As a teaching assistant on the Highcroft campus, Al has spent this school year teaching and learning with Blake second graders.

Q: What is the most surprising thing about you?
A: I asked the second graders for a little help with this question. Lillian G. said, “The fact that you want to climb Mt. Everest!” 

My own answer for this one (which will make my old teachers laugh) is that the most surprising thing about me is that I am back at Blake, but teaching, and really enjoying it. I, admittedly, was hard to keep in my chair as a student, but I’m back at Highcroft! 

Q: What are your three favorite smells?
A: Garlic and onions cooking, fresh lilacs and the smell of a freshly thawed lake in the spring 

Q: What is your earliest childhood memory?
A: I have really, really early memories of driving up to the lake every weekend, hopping in our navy blue Century Resorter and heading over to Hansen’s General Store for an ice cream cone with my dad every Saturday. We’d visit their barn cat, Tiger, talk to our neighbors, and on the way home we’d go extra slow and look for deer along the shoreline, fish jumping and check on the eagles’ nests while listening to the putt-putt-putt of the motor.

Q: Based on something you’ve already done, how might you make it into the Guinness Book of World Records?
A: World Record for the most hours played of the Animal Crossing and Legend of Zelda franchises over a lifetime!

Q: What is something you learned in the last week?
A: I learn a lot as a second grade TA! For every three things I say, I learn three or more new or different facts and musings I’d never heard of or thought of before. Today, I learned that George Washington didn’t even want to become president; he was just deemed most-suitable for the job. What he wanted to do was retire at his estate on Mt. Vernon and start a farm, which is, to me, totally valid. 

Q: What story does your family always tell about you?
A: My mom always likes to tell the story of when I was a sixth grader and noticed that on 9/11, the flag wasn’t lowered to half-mast. It was my second week of middle school, what was a sixth grader to do? Only one thing to do, march right up to [then Head of School] John Gulla’s office and let him know, of course. I got a Purple Plum [Middle School award] for my “heroism.” It was the only Purple Plum I received, which was extra special coming from Mr. Gulla himself. 

Q: What teacher inspired you the most? How? 
A: A teacher who was unforgettable to me (among many, many others) was Bob Zelle. I had “double Zelle”—back-to-back English and social studies with Mr. Zelle in Middle School—and he taught me so much, not just about literature and history but about delivery and communicating the messages of written texts and historical events. He was such a fun teacher and really did a good job of making me feel comfortable taking risks in a class where I normally wouldn’t. 

I also discovered my love of environmental science education and interpretation through Dan Trockman in high school, which is what I went on to study in college. 

Q: If you had a theme song, what would it be?
A: It’s gotta be “You Can Call Me Al” by Paul Simon, of course! 

Q: What’s the weirdest thing you've ever eaten?
A: I always say I’ll try anything once, and in Sierra Leone I ate a raw goat heart, Khaleesi-style. It was a very cool experience. 

Q: If you could have an endless supply of any food, what would you get?
One word, and one word only: D U M P L I N G S. 
Dumplings are so versatile. I could eat dumplings alone, cooked any way, for eternity.