2009 Teacher of the Year
Amanda C. Ash
Amanda C. Ash, a high school English teacher and the Department Chair at Open Campus Center, was named the citywide 2009 Virginia Beach City Public Schools Teacher of the Year. In a surprise visit made to her classroom, Superintendent James G. Merrill and Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Christine Caskey made the announcement and presented her with an engraved school bell and other congratulatory gifts.
Chosen from an initial pool of 88 teachers representing their schools, Ash was one of ten semi-finalists selected to receive classroom visits by the Teacher of the Year Selection Committee. The field was further narrowed when five finalists were individually interviewed by the Committee. According to Selection Committee Chairperson Jobynia Caldwell, each of the finalists was an outstanding, creative teacher. However, Ash was noteworthy in her ability to take students at all levels of proficiency and inspire and motivate them to learn, achieve, and succeed. Her enthusiasm for her profession ignites in her students an eagerness and determination to do well. One of her students puts it this way: “Mrs. Ash is a genuine believer in what Open Campus stands for. She is enthusiastic about what she does, possesses a veritable ocean of patience, and is a wellspring of infectious optimism.”
Ash believes that an outstanding teacher is one who loves learning, is compassionate yet accountable, takes pride in her students’ accomplishments but feels humble regarding her role in them. She is committed to using technology in the classroom and according to high school English instructional specialist Fran Sharer, she is “on the cutting edge working with digital portfolios.” Moreover, Sharer points out that the students’ work is “phenomenal” and that they all “remarked on what they had learned and how excited they were using movie maker, music, and other digital components.” For Ash, the portfolio project allows students to explore ideas that appeal to them and put their own stamp on them. In addition, class material becomes inquiry-based rather than teacher mandated. In reflecting on their own work students experience growth as writers and as people. And that is her goal.
Ash has been a teacher for six years, with all of these years dedicated to Virginia Beach City Public Schools and Open Campus. She is the recipient of a variety of awards and recognitions, including being named a 2007 School Star by the Virginia Department of Education, Office of School Improvement as well as a Distinguished Educator by Open Campus in 2007. She also has received the Tagged by the Superintendent honor in 2004 and 2006 and the I Make a Difference ribbon in 2005 and 2007.
Ash holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Virginia and an M.S.Ed. from Old Dominion University.
The Open Campus Center is a flexible, accelerated, alternative school (grades 9-12) where older high school students and adults can successfully complete courses toward a high school diploma or its equivalent. For more information about the Center, Amanda Ash, or the Virginia Beach Schools 2009 Teacher of the Year program, please contact the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at 757.263.1070.