She has studied religion and science, coached young women in volleyball, helped build houses through Habitat for Humanity, and since 2010 has held several positions at The Soulsville Charter School, including AP Biology teacher, Dean of Curriculum & Instruction, High School Principal for 6 years, and, most recently in her current role, Managing School Director.
Now, the Teach for America alumna is one of five recipients of the prestigious 2021 Barbara Rosser Hyde Alumni Leadership Award, which recognizes outstanding leadership among Teach For America alumni in Memphis. Ashley and the other honorees were chosen based on the award’s stated values of impact, sustainability, courage, community and partnerships, and the pursuit of equity.
According to Teach for America’s website, “In her 11 years with Soulsville, she is most proud of leading in a way that ensures school staff is reflecting on themselves, their practices, and always working to be a better place for students, staff, and families.”
While Ashley’s recognition and record speak for themselves, her current work as Managing School Director is often behind the scenes, but always because she believes making TSCS a better school is honorable work, right work, and equity work.
“I am extremely proud and grateful to be one of the award recipients,” she says. “And I believe having a unique platform to share the powerful things that are happening at The Soulsville Charter School on a daily basis will broaden my ability to hire excellent teachers to continue our urgent and important work.”
One area Ashley is particularly proud of is her involvement with the College and Alumni Support Team (CAST), which began when she first came to TSCS in 2010. “I have the opportunity to know students and families from 6th grade all the way through post-secondary,” she says. “I even get to have some of our alumni as co-workers! Although I love all aspects of my role, it is hard to hide that I have a special place in my heart for the work of CAST. In a unique way, I get to see my impact and the school’s collective impact through the post-secondary data that we track for all 602 alumni.”
“I started working with CAST in 2010,” she continues, “serving as an after school ACT teacher, and since then have had the opportunity to help envision, create, and execute our Summer Growth Experience (SGE) program, our Junior Seminar Program, our Senior Seminar Program, and our Alumni Support program. Our unique CAST approach is unequivocally impacting the achievement and access gap and I am very proud to have been a key player in creating that program over the past 10 years.”
It is this kind of impact that resonates with Ashley most. “This is my 13th year in education and 11 of those years have been spent helping build and refine The Soulsville Charter School. The longevity of committing to one place has allowed me to see and feel impact over time – on individual students, on teacher development, on school leader development, on family trust, and on the Soulsville USA community at large including the neighborhood, community organizations, Stax Music Academy, and the Stax Museum. This type of long-term impact is a key motivator to me personally. I am constantly motivated by the incredible educators I get to work with and the way they show up for kids and families daily.”
Ashley and the other four Barbara Rosser Hyde Award recipients were officially recognized on April 8, 2021, during Reimagining Resilience: Honoring Alumni Impact in Memphis, a virtual event that brought together corps members, alumni, and supporters to celebrate these stories of innovation and leadership.