"Students will always remember how their teachers made them feel," the Collin College graduate explained. "Every kid is successful at something."
Amidst a plethora of exceptional teachers, Claunch remembers one childhood teacher who made her feel incapable of success. Despite excelling overall, Claunch struggled with math. Her frustration was compounded by an authority figure who said it was solely a boys' subject.
She resolved to protect students from similar experiences and joined the ranks of educators.
Growing up in a single-parent home, she understood money was tight.
"My mom is a Collin College graduate as well," Claunch noted. "She started college when we were in elementary school."
When it was Allison's turn, "I knew college would be on my dime," she said. "I didn't want to graduate $100,000 in debt, but I still wanted a good education."
Claunch completed two years at Collin College before transferring to a university. Scholarships through the Collin College Foundation combined with affordable tuition and a job enabled Claunch to say something very few can.
"I left college with no loans," Claunch said. "Scholarships made it so I never had to worry about what I would pay back."
Near the end of her bachelor's degree program, Claunch realized there was one thing standing in her way–college algebra. During the holiday break, she enrolled at Collin College for a compressed semester. She knocked out algebra with the help of great professor.
To her surprise, college algebra was the last course she needed to not only graduate with her bachelor's degree, but also her Associate of Arts degree. She received two degrees that December.
It was only fitting that she would spend the majority of the next decade teaching math and science to nine and 10 year olds.
"The fact that I'd struggled with it myself made me a better teacher," she emphasized. "Instead of getting frustrated when students didn't understand, it kept me thinking, 'How can I relay this?' or 'Can I say this differently?'"
"For me, it was about changing that mind set to 'I love math. I can't wait for math. I'm good at it!'" Claunch said.
While she valued building relationships with all her students, Claunch found she has a special place in her heart for children considered to have behavioral difficulties.
Whether it was a girl obsessed with technology or a boy who could not talk about anything but football, Claunch said she perpetually asked herself, "How can I reach them?"
Claunch found one student simply wanted to be acknowledged and understood, so she gave her a journal.
"I said, 'You can't talk or act like that in class, but if you're frustrated, write it down in here. Give it to me at the end of the day. I'll read it, and we can discuss it then,'" Claunch recalled. "Through that journal we formed a special bond."
In addition, the student improved her grades, confidence and relationships with teachers and peers.
As an instructional coach now, Claunch misses the 20+ children she personally taught as a classroom teacher, but she recognizes the opportunity for a greater impact. She has the potential to work individually with all students in her school. Furthermore, she can focus on struggling students. Today, working in administration has become her long-term goal.
As this Collin College graduate's life and professional roles change, the fuel that drives her remains the same.
"If my students leave confident, knowing that I love them, and I'm behind them," Claunch said, "then I've done my job.