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2024 Yamaha "40 Under 40" educator Allison Figueroa

Allison Figueroa

Assistant Band and Choral Director
Parkland High School
Allentown, Pennsylvania

At Parkland High School, the music department is one of the three pillars that define the philosophy of the district: Arts, Athletics and Academics. “Even with this level of support, advocacy always remains an active part of the job. Being visible in the community is crucial,” says Assistant Band and Choral Director Allison Figueroa.

One area of advocacy — recruitment — is one of Figueroa’s passion projects. She believes that all incoming 8th graders would benefit from a high school band experience because band teaches students a long list of valuable life skills. “I have amplified our 8th-grade outreach with middle school band nights with the high school marching band and jazz band. We also have a meet-and-greet performance with the younger high school concert band. Parkland’s head director and I guest conduct a song with the 8th-grade band during their concerts,” Figueroa says.

She credits the music educators at the district’s nine elementary and two middle schools who lay the musical foundation for students. Once they reach Parkland, students have the opportunity to gain further instruction in performance ensembles as well as select from a catalog of music electives.

In addition to directing the ensembles and teaching courses, Figueroa is the advisor of the Tri-M Music Honor Society. Membership has doubled in the last two years, and students continually look for ways to be more involved in service projects, performances and fundraisers. “I enjoy finding opportunities for our student musicians to be seen and heard by the rest of the school, such as performing in small ensembles throughout the school during the holidays, Music in our Schools month, etc..” says Figueroa. “It has become something the school looks forward to, and it’s incredible how it makes a large school of 3,200 students seem a little smaller even if it’s just for a few moments.”

Figueroa is particularly proud of a collaboration between Tri-M and the PALS (Peer-Assisted Learning Strategies) hand chime choir. ”A committee of Tri-M students runs rehearsals with members of the PALS club to bring the experience of performing in an ensemble to those students who otherwise may not have the opportunity. The students perform side by side at our Festival of the Arts and our Life Skills commencement ceremony,” she explains.

Figueroa is proud to teach at her alma mater. “When I attended Parkland back in the day, I was the eager drum major with dreams of leading my own band. I adored band, chorus and our A-wing (the arts wing) for being a place where I could feel good at something in such a large school,” she says. “Now things have come full circle and nothing makes me prouder than being an A-wing teacher who gets to usher classes of students through the same journey.”