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Gwinnett County Teacher of the Year explains why he's quitting in viral speech to school board

Lee Allen said he's resigning due to problems within the Gwinnett County School District.

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — The Teacher of the Year for the largest school district in the state is calling it quits.

Lee Allen has been a teacher for eight years including three of those years at Archer High School in Gwinnett County. Allen teaches math and coaches wrestling. However, he said his frustrations with the job finally got to be too much. 

Just months after being named Teacher of the Year for Gwinnett County Public Schools, Allen said he's resigning due to problems within the district such as teacher retention, student apathy and disrespect, large classes, and cell phone use. He said these issues have been worse in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Allen made his intentions public on Thursday night during Gwinnett County's school board meeting. He suggested some solutions like administrators spending one week in the classroom, having smaller classes, and having more transparency in discipline. Allen said he knows many other teachers share these same frustrations but he's still surprised at the response he's received. 

"I wanted to try to speak up for some of the other teachers at my school and across Gwinnett County. And it's really resonated across the country. Currently, I've had messages from California, North Dakota, Louisiana -- a friend from Baltimore, it was on their morning radio show apparently," Allen said. "I didn't expect any of that but it's I guess a message that is currently resonating with a lot of people because it's a potential crisis that we could be we're at the precipice of."

Allen is also calling for parents to help address the problems. 

"Their schools aren't falling apart, they're in great condition, they have good financial reports and they have the ability to have a great education for everyone. And I still live in the community but I think they need to understand parents are going to have to get way more involved right now and be part of the regrowing process," he said. 

Allen said he still loves teaching so he's moving his family and will start working at a smaller school district next year. 

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