Building Young Leaders: Candy Allen

A mainstay at Civic Nebraska's Lothrop Community Learning Center in Omaha, Candy is one big reason why the CLC has the love of its community.

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The atmosphere at Civic Nebraska’s Lothrop Elementary CLC is special – a feeling of care, of inclusion, of community, and of mutual affection between instructors and students. Candy Allen is a big part of building that atmosphere. The third-year CLC instructor is a child-care veteran and has made serving youth the foundation of her 20-year career. We sat down with Candy on a recent weekday at Lothrop to hear more about her work.

When I was growing up, I always loved to be around kids. By the time I was 20, I had already started working in daycare. Now here I am, and I couldn’t be happier.

Candy Allen

Because there’s a lot of love here. A lot of love. The warmth that the kids feel from our staff, I think it helps them grow.

There are so many hands-on activities that we do here. I like that. I like getting down on the kids’ level.

Sometimes a kid might not be having the greatest time at home. When they come to (Lothrop), they’re loved, they’re always paid attention to, and they’re not left out. And the best part is, they like to come back.

Sometimes, it’s just that they’ve learned all day. Now, it’s time to play.

I love all of our kids. I have a special love for our Pre-K and Kindergarten students. I love teaching them their ABCs, their numbers, the states. It’s fun to be there from the beginning.

It’s satisfying to see kids grow. You can see them doing it – they’re getting better and learning more. I’ve had teachers talk to me about certain kids who once struggled in school, but now they’re doing better. Hopefully, that’s us helping them, in ways that they can use during their school day.

I was quiet and withdrawn when I was young. I know where those kids are coming from. The secret is to just keep working with them. If you ask them questions again and again and be consistent, they gradually come out of their shell. Trust is so important at this age, and it’s important to these kids.

If (students) see me or any of us here, they know they’ve got a place where they can grow. They have a place to do what they want to do and be who they want to be.

This is a special place. It has a loving, caring staff who will stand up for their kids. It’s a healthy and good environment. When you walk in the door, you can feel that sensation.

One of my favorite times is right when CLC starts. That’s when the kids come in, and they always say hello and give me a hug. They greet me and I greet them – just seeing them makes my day.

More Building Young Leaders profiles:
Marjan Vasaji | Dewenica Sallis | Esther Jones | Liseth Reyna | Victor Ortiz-Morales | Toni Kuhn | Liz Hunt|Trishonna Helm | LaMia Byrd

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