The Golden Apple Goes to Jessica Ashley

Published: Nov. 17, 2016 at 11:20 AM CST
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When you think of third grade, you likely think of high-stakes standardized testing and a classroom focused on test prep. But relationships with her students, on top of academics, are just as important to this week's Golden Apple Award winner.

Amid the ordinary sounds of learning, you can catch a different melody in Jessica Ashley's third grade classroom.

"We do it during our testing just to help us relax and to take a little bit of stress off," Ashley said.

While the classical notes flow, the students are hard at work and play, all the while preparing for that end of the year high stakes testing for third grade.

"She helps everybody in this classroom and she gets them up to a higher level," Xander Eckman, whose mom nominated Ashley for the Golden Apple Award, said.

But some things are more important than test preparation to this Lucille Moore Elementary School teacher.

"Building our personal relationships with each child," Ashley said. "They trust me, I trust them, and that has really helped them try things when they're hard. They're not afraid to make mistakes or to fail, and they know if I make a mistake, it's okay, I'm still learning."

Ashley "looped up" with this group from the second grade. After nearly two years together, she knows their quirks, their strengths, and their learning styles.

"Academically, just the things that they have learned and their problem solving skills and how much more they can do independently this year has been wonderful," she said.

"Being in her class for two years, since she's so good of a teacher, I get to have a good teacher for two years," Xander said.

"She a fun teacher," another third grade student said.

Ashley's created a symphonic learning environment now, but it's still a work in progress.

"I think our biggest challenge is building those social skills-- teaching them how to speak to one another and how to treat others," she said.

Striking a chord in these young learners, building them up for a bright future ahead.

"When they have self confidence, they really do believe that they can achieve anything, and they can," Ashley said.

If you'd like to nominate a teacher for the Golden Apple Award, click the "Golden Apple" tab here on our website.