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ACU Home > Major Events > News > 2003 News Archive > Mara Ashley receives Morlan award

Educational pioneer in American Samoa to receive ACU Morlan award

For immediate release
April 10, 2002

Mara Ashley, founder of a private school in American Samoa, will be awarded the 2003 Morlan Medal by the Abilene Christian University Department of Education at a dinner Friday, April 11.

The award honors graduates of the ACU Department of Education who have distinguished themselves in the field of education.

“I think Mara is an example of an educator who saw an opportunity and made it a reality,” said Dr. Pat Simpson, chair of the Education Department. “That may not be the typical way to distinguish yourself but it’s certainly a wonderful way.”

After a few years of teaching and several years of staying home with three daughters, Ashley moved to the U.S. territory of American Samoa where only one year later, in 1994, Ashley’s concerns about the low standard of education in American Samoa led her to begin Pacific Horizons School.

PCS began with six students meeting in the Ashleys’ living room and now has its own facility with 80 students in preschool through high school and nearly 500 alumni . PCS focuses on educating the whole child, using innovative methods to motivate and challenge the multicultural community.

Ashley completed her master’s degree in educational change and innovation from Walden University in 2002. Since the opening of PCS, she has taught every grade from first grade through high school. In 1999, she was named a “Hero of Education” in a series in the local newspaper. Ashley and her husband also helped found the Tafuna Church of Christ in American Samoa.


If you are a member of the media who would like more information about this release, please contact Wendy Kilmer, university news coordinator.

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