2017 Middle Level Adviser of the Year

Ms. Penelope Allen, teacher and student council adviser at Lafayette Middle School in Oxford, MS has been named the 2017 Warren E. Shull National Middle Level Adviser of the year by the National Student Council. Ms. Allen was announced and presented with the award during the NatStuCo National Conference held in Derry, New Hampshire in June. The annual award is named for Warren E. Shull, the founder of NatStuCo and recognizes middle level student council advisers of exemplary character, leadership and commitment to young people and who foster their development as student leaders.

Ms. Allen is a math teacher at Lafayette has served as student council adviser for eight years. In that time she has worked to help her students develop as leaders by guiding them through the processes to plan and run a variety of events and activities in areas such as service, school spirit and leadership training. Under her direction the council adopted students at the middle school with special needs. The “Circle of Friends” as it came to be called, included weekly activities a back to school party that was a chance for school staff and the student leaders to meet parents of their special needs students. In addition to the experience and skills developed through their work on council projects, Ms. Allen helps her council organize and host several Student Council Workshop Days. During the workshops, council members met with school and community leaders and participated in activities and sessions designed to build skills and knowledge supporting their development as leaders. Service is a key focus of the Lafayette council and they, along with Ms. Allen have received a ‘Spotlight on Service’ award highlighting their activities to help in the school and community.

Ms. Allen’s leadership and success in developing middle level leaders has not gone unnoticed at the state level. She has been active in the Mississippi Association of School Councils, serving in multiple roles including district director, state board member and workshop staff member. Her council has hosted the MSASC state conference, which is quite an undertaking for middle level student leaders. Ms. Allen has also served as a mentor for new middle level advisers in the state, helping them acclimate to their roles as advisers and manage their councils effectively. Similarly, she mentors the new hires at her school and regularly welcomes visiting college students and professors via a teacher’s cam to observe her teaching and discuss the strategies she uses in class. In recognition of her contributions and excellence in advising she was named the MSASC state middle level adviser of the year three times.

With Ms. Allen’s support, the Lafayette council has earned national recognition as an NatStuCo National Council of Excellence and served on the former NatStuCo Advisory Committee along with one of her students. She has presented workshops at both her state and the national conference, and shared her ideas with peers as a roundtable presenter.

From students to staff, Ms. Allen makes a lasting impression on those around her as is illustrated by her assistant principal, Joseph Adams who says, “Penny exemplifies not only the qualities of a model teacher-leader, but also has the character that children and adults alike should strive to emulate. Penny has a way about her that causes all those around her to desire to improve and give their best.” Andrew Pugh, President of the student council adds, “She has made a huge impact on our council and our school. She has created a very, very strong council in our school over her years as adviser.  I’ve never seen someone so passionate and dedicated to doing something that helps others. She is also one of the most loving people I have ever met. Without Mrs. Allen, there is no way that our council would be as successful as we are. She has been right along our side helping us with absolutely anything and everything we need and she has helped us become the young men and women we are.”

MSASC Director Gayle Bentz shared that “Mrs. Allen is the epitome of what an educator should strive to be. She is a wonderful leader who truly cares about children. Her energy and enthusiasm for leadership encourages all that have the chance to spend time with her. As the Executive Director of MSASC, I get the privilege of observing Mrs. Allen in action in a variety of situations. In every situation, she has shown integrity, honesty, dependability, and a work ethic like none I have ever witnessed. No matter what is ask of her or her students, she always gladly accepts the challenge and leads the way with a positive attitude.”

For her efforts to develop emerging leaders and a student council program that fosters student engagement and growth, and for being a role model and mentor for other middle level advisers and teachers, NatStuCo congratulates Ms. Penelope Allen on being named the 2017 Warren E. Shull National Middle Level Adviser of the Year.


NatStuCo congratulates our 2017 National Adviser of the Year Region Finalists who consistently demonstrate excellence in their efforts to help middle level and high school students grow as effective and ethical leaders. Each finalist is a skilled educator who epitomizes the commitment advisers make to promote leadership, service, and civic engagement as qualities of good citizens through their student council programs.

Region 2
Nicole Ciaramella, Chartiers Valley Middle School, Bridgeville, PA

Region 3
Sarah Wise, Erwin Middle School, Salisbury, NC

Region 6
Selina Martinez, Santa Rosa Middle School, Santa Rosa, NM

Region 7
Kelly Elder, C.R. Anderson Middle School, Helena, MT

Region 8
Penelope Allen, Lafayette Middle School, Oxford, MS