Ashley Henderson ('10) | Elementary Education
Elementary education major
from Fresno, Calif.
From the moment Ashley Henderson walks into her classroom until she locks the door to go home, she's working for a group of the most important bosses in the world. It's not the principal or the administration, though they may be the ones who sign her paycheck. For Ashley, the people who truly judge her teaching skills are her students.
"When you walk in that door, you belong to those kids," she says. "You don't just want to download information from your brain to theirs. You need to get up there and have something good to teach."
Ashley's dedication to passionate and principled teaching is a result of an innate desire to help people learn. She never had an Aha! moment when she automatically knew that she wanted to be a teacher. Education was simply something that was a part of her life from the very beginning.
"I just am a teacher," she says. "You are always learning."
Although she loves working with all age groups, Ashley's favorite students are young children - particularly kindergarteners. She's drawn to their enthusiasm, their ability to absorb information, and their immense willingness to love.
"They are still so passionate about learning. It just kind of comes naturally," she says. "I love the little ones because they love you for no reason."
When she had to jump from kindergarten to a fifth-grade class during her student teaching, Ashley discovered that it was a little harder to win over older students. She gradually gained their trust by treating them as she wanted to be treated - with respect.
"It's always easier to learn from someone when you like them," she says. "Really paying attention to your students helps so much."
Lessons in teaching well
Many of Ashley's successful teaching techniques came from her education classes at ACU. As she worked with professors and fellow students, she learned to find ways to capitalize on each child's strengths, make the most of the time she had, and plan ahead with extra games and activities so that no moment of class time would be wasted.
"It's always easier to teach who you are and what you know," she notes. "There's a way to incorporate life into school. And our department is great about leading by example."
Ashley is, in a sense, talking about her experiences as both a student and a teacher. While at ACU, she worked on skills that would serve her well during student teaching and her professional career - skills such as parent-teacher communication, often one of the most challenging areas of education.
"That was a really big struggle for some people," Ashley says. Some parents to whom she talked were uncomfortable discussing their child's education or didn't know what to say. But by talking about the value of learning basic life skills, she was able to reach out to those who didn't feel at home in their child's classroom.
"I've rarely met someone who didn't think that children are the future," she says.
One of Ashley's biggest challenges is finding enough time to fit everything she's planned into the day. She always plans extra activities ahead of time so that her kids won't become bored or restless. And occasionally she's tempted to jettison her lessons plans and simply jump into a subject that engages her students.
"You can really personalize what you're teaching," she says. "I'm sharing the fun of knowledge."
Although her class time may be filled with excitement and the constant challenge of engaging young minds, Ashley's primary motivation is simple: to inspire kids to live passionate, vision-filled lives.
"You wants kids to learn to live passionately," she says. "We need to show kids that it's OK to really love something."
Serving Local Schools
Masters of Education in Teaching and Learning
The Master of Education in Teaching and Learning is a one-year master's program designed for ACU students who will complete a bachelor's degree in Education
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