Whether in the classroom or the studio, Mr. Allard likes to think he’s still educating
Bonus feature article
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Brad Allard has been informing listeners about happenings in Burleson since he started his podcast, “Mr. Allard’s Neighborhood” in 2019. His motivation for the podcast is to do what he did in Burleson from 1990 to 2016, educate.
The title of the podcast, “Mr. Allard’s Neighborhood,” is Allard’s indication to listeners that the podcast is about his community.
“What I envision is it’s like a community kind of thing,” Allard said. “Sometimes, like in all communities, particularly when it gets to politics, it can get kind of spicy, you might say. But most of the shows are about community.”
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The show features Allard discussing with various guests from businesses and organizations in Burleson, including monthly shows with a guest from Burleson Independent School District, Burleson Chamber of Commerce and The Harvest House in Burleson, among others.
Sarah Carlson, one of Allard’s former students and the administrator of a Burleson-based Facebook group Municipal Matters of BTX, said the podcast offers people a chance to know what’s going on in Burleson.
“The more opportunities we have to help the community get involved and get educated, the healthier our community becomes,” Carlson said. “And I think his podcast is a route to helping people get there.”
The podcast meets a need for community news that Burleson hasn’t had since The Burleson Star newspaper went out of business, Carlson said. One of the ways the podcast meets this need is by having community leaders on the podcast, and the community is better when leaders are accessible, Carlson said.
One of the community leaders, Victoria Johnson, city council Place 1, is another one of Allard’s former students and a frequent guest on the podcast. She said Allard asks good questions, and being on the podcasts feels like having a cup of coffee with a friend.
Allard’s way of communicating so understandably comes from so many years of engaging students, Johnson said.
“I think it’s all one in the same actually,” Allard said. “I’m still educating, I like to think. When I’m talking about the border issues or the debt issues or whatever else, I’m still teaching in a way. So the podcast really is just an extension of what I did for all those years.”
Allard spent all those years educating because he thinks education is very important to a community.
“There’s no substitute for having a good school system for having a good community,” Allard said. “You can’t have a community that’s really that good if your schools are terrible.” He added that people and businesses don’t move to cities with terrible schools.
After retiring from teaching history, government and economics at Burleson High School in 2016, Allard taught at Southwest Christian in Fort Worth for three years. He said the private school experience wasn’t what he thought it’d be.
“When I refer to my teaching career, I hardly ever refer to Southwest Christian School over in Fort Worth,” Allard said. “And it’s a fine and good school, blah blah blah, but BHS is where my heart is.”
Burleson High School became the home of Allard’s heart after he moved to Burleson from Arlington in 1990 because he wanted to live in the city he taught in. “I was looking for a community, not just a place to live,” Allard said.
Allard decided to be a teacher after working in finance for 27 months. He said it was like he was struck by lightning when he realized he wanted to teach.
“It wasn’t like I had been preparing for months to make that kind of declaration,” Allard said. “It just happened.”
Allard believes God called him to teach.
“I do believe God impresses upon your heart and mind His will if you allow it, and that’s kind of what happened to me,” Allard said.
Allard believes that sometimes he did well as a teacher and sometimes failed, but he thought his class was relaxed.
“It was relaxed in the sense that most students felt comfortable talking about what they wanted to talk about,” Allard said. “Some of those conversations would kind of veer off into some pretty personal stuff.”
Allard’s class prepared students for college, Carlson said. The class didn’t include busy work and instead focused on gaining a deep understanding of the material, which made learning history less boring, Carlson said.
“He really allowed questions that were more than surface level,” Carlson said. “He really allowed discussions that were about motivation and cause and effect and connecting it to what we see going on now.”
Allard’s class was challenging in a good way, Johnson said.
“I remember that in high school you’re still formulating so many of your ideals and what you believe in and what you think,” Johnson said. “He would present current events and current activities and really make you think about what you might feel if you were able to do something, able to change something.”
Teaching government and economics, Allard had to teach without being biased toward his own political opinions.
“I’d like to think it was a class where, even though most people knew I was pretty conservative politically, none of the students felt like they had to be so [conservative] just to get along,” Allard said. “They could do what they want.”
While Allard always makes it clear where he stands on issues, he presents things in a neutral and fair manner, Johnson said.
Teaching is a big responsibility. And there’s more to being a teacher than what’s in the job description, Allard said.
“What is asked of a teacher?” Allard said. “Gosh, you have to be cop, counselor, psychiatrist, nurse or doctor, whatever, a friend, authority figure, expert in their content, expert in educational practices.”
Something outside of the job description Allard was often asked to do was check out the men’s bathroom to see what was going on, whether it be fighting, smoking or something else.
“Back in the day, smoking was common, and they’d try to do it in the bathroom. And by noon-time, it’s getting kind of stinky. I walked in on this one kid and caught him red-handed as he’s taking a drag. I go ‘Well, that cigarette, I hope it’s a good one because it’s costing you 250 bucks,’ which is what the fine was. He goes ‘Well, if it’s gonna cost me 250 bucks, can I at least finish it?’ I said ‘Sure.’ So we stood there and talked while he was finishing his cigarette because I figured, poor kid, he just blew 250 bucks on it, might as well get a full smoke.”
His approachable and engaging personality has allowed Allard to develop friendships with many former students such as Carlson and Johnson. He even went to Carlson’s wedding.
Allard is one of the many good teachers Johnson was privileged to have that helped shape the servant heart she has, Johnson said.
“I think once you’ve had Mr. Allard as a teacher, you just have a respect for the way he teaches about anything, about current events, about community events, about all of those things,” Carlson said. She added that Allard backs up his opinions, whether it be in the classroom or on his podcast.
“You’re entitled to my opinion,” is the podcast’s slogan because Allard is always eager to share his opinion. Once Allard retired from teaching, he continued to engage with his interest in current events and share his opinions with anyone who would listen. He just couldn’t give up teaching social studies, he said. His wife suggested figuring out a way to monetize that.
“It’s kind of a joke about Allard men,” Allard said. “The two problems we have is that we always think we’re right, and we’re always right.”
While the podcast allows Allard to indulge in his interests and offer his opinion on those interests, that’s not the mission of the podcast. The mission of the podcast is to help bring attention to the businesses and nonprofits in the town and show citizens they have a lot to be thankful for with so many good people doing good work, Allard said.
“I think the message that he has is to take the time to listen and to get to know all of these different sectors of our community, whether it’s non-profits, whether it’s the city, the county, if it’s an elected official, just somebody who’s serving a role and serving our community,” Johnson said. “I think he’s opened up a lot of avenues for people to understand all that our community has to offer.”
The podcast offers Allard another way to educate his community, and while he said he doesn’t see himself doing it forever, he doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon.