Living in a military family I was born in Fort Bragg, NC and moved a lot in my younger years. I consider Saint Pauls, NC my hometown since I spent most of my high school years there. I graduated from Saint Pauls High School in 2003 and set my focus on going to college at UNCP. UNCP has an excellent school of education, is affordable, and close to home. During my time at UNCP I got involved with the subject I loved the most, Art. Besides diving into my art classes and being in the art club, I also was part of the sorority Sigma Sigma Sigma and down a part time job. I participated in countless art gallery showings and even sold some of my artwork because of the exposure UNCP gave me. UNCP gave me an edge before I started my career with an internship teaching art at the local elementary and high school. This valuable experience led to a job with the Public Schools of Robeson County at Fairmont High School after graduation. I am currently the Art Department Chair, Art Club Advisor, National Art Honor Society Advisor, Yearbook and Newspaper Advisor, and also serve on numerous other committees. Since starting started at Fairmont High my students have won numerous awards at the local, state, and national level. Their work has been displayed in places such as Raleigh, NC, Little Rock, AR, Dallas, TX, Washington D.C. and New York, NY. Not only has their work been displayed all over the US, it has also afforded me the opportunity to take the students on field trips from Texas to New York. The awards and trips are nice but the thing that I am most proud of is that my previous students are now in college and producing artwork of their own, with some even studying at UNCP now.
What was the most important thing you learned while attending UNCP
The most important thing that I learned during my college career was time management, perseverance, and the value of having a small class setting. I also learned that if you want something you have to work very hard at it. Not only was I working hard at school but I also had a part time job and other extracurricular activities. All of this showed me that I had to develop a good sense of time management and learn to prioritize. Artwork is not something you can procrastinate, so I had to make sure I was keeping up with all of my responsibilities. Being in small classes helped me get the personal attention I needed from my instructors and really helped me develop as a student and artist. In my studio classes, the class sizes were much smaller than a normal college class, and the professors could give me extra attention which helped me with my art portfolio and also created a bond among my classmates, who are now some of my professional colleagues.
What advice would you give to current or prospective students?
The best advice I can give is to be open minded and be willing to explore all of your interests. When I first started at UNCP, I had it in my head that I was going to study elementary education. When I started seeing the difference between elementary and high school I started to realize I was made for the high school setting, I wanted to help students realize more advanced art goals and to really create a future in art. While observing high school classes I realized what I wanted to do in my career. I switched from elementary education to art education where I could teach at the high school level and didn’t look back. If I didn’t have an open mind, I might not have found the right fit and I might not have been as successful in the classroom as I am today.
Ashley was recently selected as Fairmont High School’s Teacher of the Year for the 2013-14 school year. In 2013 Won Wildlife forever educator of the year. http://www.wildlifeforever.org/news-events/2013-educator-of-the-year