The 2017 Texas Teacher of the Year is Allison Ashley, a member of Texas AFT’s Austin ISD affiliate, Education Austin. Ashley teaches bilingual education at the school district’s Becker Elementary campus. The statewide teaching award was bestowed on her at a ceremony held in Austin today, making her the official Texas entrant in the competition to be designated national teacher of the year.
The Austin American-Statesman notes that Ashley has taught bilingual education in Austin ISD for seven of her ten years as an educator. She earned her master’s degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She started her teaching career in the Rio Grande Valley, teaching in Brownsville and Edinburg.
According to the Austin paper’s report, “Ashley said her mother, who was a bilingual teacher in inner-city Boston, was her main inspiration for becoming a teacher. She said she returned to Austin for the district’s dual language model.”
The news story also quotes the former principal who nominated her, David Kauffman, on what makes her so exemplary:
She’s an amazing teacher for lots of different reasons. She cares so much about the students in the classroom and she helps create an environment that is so warm and welcoming and supportive for all the students. She is a teacher leader who helps other teachers become better…and she’s part of different networks from around the country that are working to improve teaching and teachers.
A press release from the lead sponsor of the teaching award, the Texas Association of School Administrators, quotes Ashely on her view of what teachers can accomplish:
One of the most powerful things educators can do is model for students a love of learning, an eagerness for and appreciation of feedback, a transparent sharing of goals, and the vulnerability to fail and try again. When a commitment to learning and a growth mindset are explicitly modeled and taught for students in authentic ways, it contributes to a class environment where students are more willing to take risks, fail, revisit and revise work, and strive for continuous improvement.