This Teacher Deserves a Gold Star

AISD’s Teacher of the Year Named Region 13 Elementary School Teacher of the Year

In her new classroom at Becker Elementary School, third-grade dual-language teacher Allison Ashley is setting up for her 10th year of teaching.

Having taught for six years at Perez Elementary School and several years in the Rio Grande Valley through Teach for America, she is now a veteran teacher—someone new teachers can look up to.

And Region 13 and AISD agree that she’s well-qualified as a mentor. Ashley was named AISD Teacher of the Year this year and now Region 13 has named her Elementary School Teacher of the Year. 

“It’s a huge honor. I’m so grateful to everyone who’s helped me grow,” she said.

She jokes that she has pages of goals for the upcoming year—both professional, personal and for her classroom—which just highlights her dedication to her students. Not all teachers spend their summer vacation thinking about how they can improve their classrooms to teach even better.

One of her biggest goals is to teach through a social justice lens.

“I think there’s such a need for students to develop a really strong sense early on in their educational journey of who they are and build pride around that, but also learn an understanding of differences and similarities across different racial, socioeconomic and linguistic groups. I’m really excited about that component of my work,” Ashley said.

Ashley grew up in a bilingual family—her mother is from Argentina and her father spent many years in South America—but she lost some of her Spanish while in school near Boston, which did not offer dual-language courses. She said that experience made her aware of the importance of students continuing to develop their language skills in their native tongue while learning English.

When she’s not teaching, Ashley said she loves to be out in nature—on the hike-and-bike trail, swimming and traveling—but even if she was not in the job she is now, she said she imagines she might be doing another kind of teaching, but in a more natural setting.

“An outdoors guide would be awesome!” she said.

Her advice to new teachers is simple: get to know your students. She said learning about students gives insight in how to teach them better—through their likes and dislikes and their natural curiosities.

And for her parents, she said they can help the learning process by demonstrating high expectations, supporting literacy development and partnering with their child’s teacher to be involved.

As Ashley begins to lay out her classroom, designing it with her students in mind, it’s easy to see how she was chosen as Teacher of the Year as she wonders aloud how different layouts might affect their learning.  It may be her first year at Becker, but with almost a decade of teaching under her belt, she’s well prepared for this upcoming year.

“I’m so excited to meet my new students and their families and start creating a new community with them,” Ashley said.