ASU alumna is Yuma’s Teacher of the Year

Ashley Kelley (BAE ’10), a K–3 special education teacher at Mesquite Elementary School in Yuma, is the 2016 Yuma County Teacher of the Year. A $1,000 donation in her name will be made to the Rotary International’s polio eradication efforts, and she won a seven-day trip for two to Hawaii, courtesy of Yuma Investment Group.

“Winning this award has been a complete, unexpected blessing,” Kelley said. “I enjoy teaching students with special needs and helping them find their strength. This award belongs to my students and instructional assistants as much as it does to me. This honor gives me a platform to speak for those who cannot advocate for themselves. I’m humbled that Yuma saw me fit to receive this award.”

Kelley has dual certification in special education and elementary education and has been teaching for four years. “My mom raised my brother and me to take responsibility for our actions. She taught us how to make good choices. She was encouraging and supportive. My first special education mentor was Brenda Thomas, who influenced me to pursue special education over elementary education. I interned with her during my second semester in the teaching program at ASU.” Kelley said, “I enjoyed working with students who have cognitive delays. She showed me how to set up my classroom and implement lesson plans for different grade levels and Individualized Education Program goals.”

In five years, she hopes to be a special education coach, helping teachers navigate IEPs, lesson plans, classroom management and more. She said, “I could also see myself working with the Special Olympics organization. My class has participated in the Special Olympics of Arizona the past two years within our school district. It was an amazing opportunity.”

This award program is in its 29th year and is co-sponsored by the Education Foundation of Yuma County and local Yuma Rotary Clubs.

Tales out of School

Tales out of School is a lightning-round interview that introduces you to members of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College community.

What three things are always in your fridge?

Cucumber, Colby jack cheese and flavored water (black cherry).

Coffee or tea:

Coffee, for sure!! 

Last movie you watched that made you cry:

Disney Pixar’s “Inside Out.”

Last book you read:

“Becoming More Than a Good Bible Study Girl” by Lysa Terkeurst.

Teaching is the most important profession because …

we are molding world-changers.

The real-life teacher who most inspired you:

Brenda Thomas from Tolleson Elementary School District in Tolleson, Arizona.

Favorite fictional teacher:

Miss Frizzle from “The Magic School Bus.”

What are you most grateful for?

My family: my two daughters and my husband.

Why did you choose education as a major?

I’ve always felt called to be a teacher.

Who inspired you when you were young, and why?

My mom. She was always organized, present and patient.

Who inspires you now?

My husband and my mom.

What was the biggest risk you ever took, and what did you learn from it?

I moved away from all of my family in Ohio to follow my husband (then fiancé) to Arizona. I learned about perseverance and the strength that I didn’t know I had.

Three historical or fictional people you would have over for dinner:

Jesus, Cleopatra and Queen Elizabeth I.

What’s your favorite mode of transportation, and why?

Flying. It’s effortless on my part and enjoyable. Plus, I’m always going somewhere FUN when I fly. 

What’s your go-to food?

Cucumbers with cherry tomatoes and Tajin seasoning.

ASU moment to remember:

That time when my best friend Amber took up the entire back table during class … every class. She always carried five different bags with coffee in one hand and her laptop in the other. She was, and is still, my entertainment.

Biggest change in classrooms from when you were a child to today:

The way math is taught. The standards are very rigorous and require math to be taught and understood in a completely different way than I remember learning.

Biggest accomplishment:

My daughters (Charleigh is 3 and Riley is 1).

Most adventurous thing you’ve ever done:

I went to Brazil when I was in high school for a mission trip with my grandmother. We had many amazing cultural and spiritual experiences.

Favorite movie quote:

“You may only call me ‘Mrs. Darcy’ when you are completely, and perfectly, and incandescently happy.” —Pride and Prejudice.

Pet peeve:

Being poked, and smacking food while eating.

App you can’t live without:

Kindle and podcasts.