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John Phillip Allen Graphic
John Phillip Allen viewed teaching as his calling.
Scholarship honors 1959 classmate
Friends created the memorial for long-time educator, administrator
Leah Jackson
05/11/2017

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NATCHITOCHES – Two friends in Robeline High School’s graduating class of 1959 have established a scholarship to honor a classmate and benefit a student from a rural area of Louisiana. Edward McWilliams of College Station, Texas, and Norman Hicks of Natchitoches created the John Phillip Allen, Class of 1959 Scholarship in honor of their friend, a long-time educator and administrator.

 The annual scholarship will be awarded to a Northwestern State University student from Louisiana seeking a bachelor’s degree with preference given to a student from Robeline or other rural community. The student must maintain a B average. 

“John Phillip grew up on a small farm and was very much involved with agriculture,” McWilliams said, describing his friend as a hard worker and a self-made man. “He was one of the most motivated teachers I’ve ever met and I could see that, even in the eighth grade. He was a natural born teacher.”

McWilliams, who is a professor emeritus of horticultural sciences at Texas A&M University, said he and Hicks specified the scholarship go to a rural student because those students often have less financial opportunities available to them.

“The 1959 Robeline graduating class was made up of about 24 students and everyone knew everyone,” McWilliams said. He recalled Allen playing basketball with Hicks and other friends.

After graduating from Robeline High School, Allen earned a bachelor’s degree at Northwestern State in 1963 and a master’s from Louisiana Tech in 1967. He was the first in his family to attend college. He coached and taught at several Louisiana high schools in Caddo Parish and at Dubberly High School, where the coached the basketball team to a state championship. In 1973, he moved to Dallas as a middle school math teacher for the Dallas Independent School District and spent 34 years as a teacher, assistant principal, assistant principal and administrator. He retired in 2007 after working as an adjunct education professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, where the Phillip Allen Teacher Development Scholarship was established in his memory.

Allen passed away Feb. 11, 2016, at age 74. He is survived by his wife Rosemarie and three children who all became educators.

“John Phillip had a gift and a passion for working with hard-to-reach students and developed many successful programs and supports to assist high risk students,” Hicks said. “He believed teaching was a calling rather than a profession or vocation.”

“We were trying to do something local and tied to his youth,” McWilliams said, in the hopes that other classmates and friends might want to contribute to the scholarship.

“The scholarship will aid qualified students from rural areas of Louisiana, including Robeline where John Phillip spent his early life and graduated from Robeline High School,” Hicks said. “We are honoring him as a hard worker and a great classmate. He was a great role model.”

Robeline High School, home of the Bulldogs, closed in 1980.

McWilliams said when he and Hicks decided to create the scholarship, they were surprised at how many classmates were deceased or unable to be located. They realized that time is of the essence.

“Establishing a scholarship is a college or university is fairly easy,” he said. “Contact the institution of your choice and they will guide you in the process.  You will be able to determine the criteria and method of awarding the scholarship.  If you have the time and inclination to set up a scholarship, get on with it. It is a wonderful way to honor a former athlete, Sunday School teacher, math teacher or school administrator or you may honor them by simply donating to the John Phillip Allen Scholarship.”

Contributions to the John Phillip Allen Memorial Scholarship can be made through the NSU Foundation by calling (318) 357-4414 or by visiting northwesternalumni.com