Allen ‘hops’ back into classroom

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 16, 2005

AHOSKIE – A retired educator is back in the classroom.

And the library. And on

When Catherine Allen retired from Hertford County Public Schools after 30 years as a teacher, she planned to become a writer.

&uot;My dream is to see the book in the hands of children and the teachers who teach them,&uot; Allen said.

This year, her dream came true when she had her first book published. The book, entitled &uot;Gloves Down Under,&uot; is a story about a green treefrog in the Kakadua Rainforest in northeastern Australia.

&uot;When I retired, I planned to do some writing and spend more time on my art,&uot; Allen said. &uot;I had been painting since I was in high school, but you don’t have much time to do that when you are teaching.&uot;

Since publishing the book, Allen has been in the classrooms and libraries of the Roanoke-Chowan area, teaching children more about the rainforest and reading her book to them. It is something she has enjoyed.

&uot;It’s been a good experience,&uot; she said. &uot;I have enjoyed working with the children since I had it published. I read to the children and talk to them about painting, writing and publishing.&uot;

Before retiring, Allen said she was able to do some artwork, for gifts and personal use, but that most of her time was spent working on lesson plans during her years at Ahoskie Graded School and Robert L. Vann Elementary School.

When she retired, Allen said she was intending to write a book of short stories, which she began work on, but decided to do a picture book.

&uot;When I was teaching about the rain forest, it was something I enjoyed and I knew there needed to be more supplementary books in that area,&uot; she said. &uot;I knew I could do the painting and use a variety of colors.&uot;

Allen chose to use a frog as her main character because she felt children liked frogs. In fact, Gloves, the main character of the book, is based on a frog that was kept in her daughter-in-law’s classroom at Hertford County High School.

&uot;Catherine, my daughter-in-law, brought the frog home and I was able to photograph it which helped in my painting,&uot; Allen said.

The author said as the book came together, it was helped her feel like she was getting something for the time she was spending.

&uot;When it all came together, I was able to use my writing and art to make something that I was pleased to have spent time on,&uot; she said. &uot;It gave me some satisfaction and fulfillment with the time since I had not been teaching.&uot;

In writing the book, Allen included facts about the rainforests, conservation and endangered animals.

Allen said she was pleased when she finally saw the book, which was designed by her publisher in Greensboro.

&uot;I always dreamed of having a book and I wanted a hardback,&uot; she said. &uot;I wanted to put a book in the hands of children I thought they would enjoy and I knew some things they would enjoy from my years of teaching.&uot;

Since having the book published, Allen has travelled to Bertie, Hertford, Gates and Northampton counties. Thus far, she has made trips to the libraries in Ahoskie, Murfreesboro and Aulander. She has also been to Willis Hare Elementary, Gatesville Elementary, Buckland Elementary, Chowan College, Ridgecroft School, Hertford County High School, Bertie High School and Bearfield Primary School.

The book is available through and is also available at several sites in the area. Currently the book can be purchased at the gift shop at Roanoke-Chowan Hospital, the Bushel Basket Gift Shop in Ahoskie, Blue Front Gift Shop in Murfreesboro and the Book-In Gift Shop in Roanoke Rapids.

Allen is a native of Northampton County who graduated from Conway High School. She continued her education at Chowan College and Campbell College, now Campbell University.