BANGS — In her first-grade classroom at J.B. Stephens Elementary School, Jimane Allen recalled her days as an Early Longhorn.

Allen, who attended Early schools in grades 1-12, played sports for the Lady Longhorns. She was true to her school — and, she explained with a laugh, “I didn’t wear green, and if you were from Bangs I didn’t talk to you.”

How things have changed.

Allen is married to a former Bangs Dragon football player named Larry Allen, and their son and daughter are both Bangs graduates. Allen has spent her entire 25-year teaching career at Bangs’ J.B. Stephens Elementary School.

Now when Bangs plays Early, “I’m flipped,” Allen said. “Once my kids started school and became Dragons, now it’s like, no purple … I love school spirit and I try so hard, even at the (first-grade students’) age, to get them to be proud of being Dragons.”

Allen said she got her unusual first name because her dad’s name is Jimmy. “I was the only girl, so I got Jimane,” Allen said. “He wanted me named after him. So they made up my name.”

As a high school student, Allen said, she knew of her future husband but didn’t know him personally. “He ran track. He ran the hurdles and I remember watching him run,” Allen said. “I remember him playing football against us. But as far as knowing him and talking to him, no. We showed pigs against each other.”

The two didn’t actually meet until she was student teaching in Stephenville as she finished college. “And that’s a big Brownwood rivalry so I got to experience that,” Allen said.

She and Larry met when her uncle introduced them.

When Allen started teaching in Bangs, some of her Early friends sent her black roses and a purple dragon. “They were sending me that kind of stuff to give me a hard time,” Allen said.

When asked what brought her into education, Allen said, “I think God places us where we belong. I knew when I graduated high school it’s what I wanted to do. At first I thought I wanted to be a coach. And then as I got into the education classes, I was drawn toward the younger children. I thought, well, I might do P.E.”

Attending Tarleton State University, Allen did classroom observations and realized she wanted to teach younger children. What drew her to the children, she said, was “their innocence. What I really liked was the growth you see with them.”

She said her classroom has a saying: “I do, which is ‘teacher do,’ we do, which we do together and then you do. So I get to watch them go from sounding out basic words all the way to becoming an independent reader, and enjoy their reading, pick up books and just start reading.

“I just enjoy being with the children. They teach me as much as I teach them. I always share with my husband that it’s never boring — ever. My days are not monotonous. It’s not the same thing every day.”

After 25 years of teaching first grade, Allen said, she hasn’t grown tired of the job. “I chalk that up to my team of teachers,” she said. 

On her four-teacher team, one is from Odessa, and the other three including Allen — from Early.