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Middle-Level Education Student Recognized with English Language Arts Award


JONESBORO -- Middle level education student Ashley Gauthier is in the first term of her senior year at Arkansas State University.  She spends her mornings at Westside Middle School practicing the art and science of teaching. In the afternoons, she returns to campus for methods courses, student organization meetings, and time in the library researching and preparing lessons and reflections about teaching. Ashley has chosen two subject areas to focus on for her teaching program and licensure, as per state guidelines, so she specializes in English Language Arts and Social Studies.

When she heard she had been chosen to receive the first-ever "Preservice English Language Arts Teacher Award" from the Arkansas Council of Teachers of English Language Arts, she responded, “I am both humbled and honored to receive this award. Being nominated by my professors reassures me that I am on the right track to becoming a future educator. I will forever be grateful for this amazing opportunity.”  She has been invited to receive the award on Thursday, Nov. 5, in Little Rock at ACTELA’s annual luncheon.

The award’s criteria included exceptional academic scholarship in ELA coursework, exemplary application of field-based pedagogical content knowledge, and dedication to the field of English education, as evidenced by conference attendance and professional networking.

As a junior, Ashley was chosen to attend a professional conference in Morrilton with a group from Arkansas State, and that was the start of a keen interest in professional development, even as a preservice teacher. She was so engaged that she gathered two other students who helped her develop a conference presentation for the Arkansas Curriculum Conference in Little Rock this November called “Heroes and Hardships: A Lit Circle Remix.” Literature Circles is a key instructional method for English Language Arts teachers and helps teachers guide young readers in student-directed discussions about literary devices and texts. Ashley experienced literature circles firsthand in her coursework at Arkansas State. She also has a particular interest in arts-based education; she understands that integrating art could be the bridge for many students to learn content in schools.

Ashley is continuing her pursuit of professional experiences by attending the Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE) conference this October in Columbus, Ohio. She and three other members of the A-State Middle Level Association have worked to raise enough funds so they can attend.

The Arkansas Council of Teachers of English Language Arts (ACTELA) provides this award and other initiatives to support English teachers across the state. President Dixie Keyes, associate professor of education at Arkansas State said, “We are proud of Ashley for her many accomplishments even before she has her own classroom. ACTELA wants to recognize exemplary educators early in their careers and provide them with a network of professional support and encouragement. We need the best to stay in the classroom and become mentors for other future teachers. Just as our national level organization, the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), provides quality professional networking, ACTELA does that at the state level.” ACTELA offers additional initiatives for teachers in Arkansas. Find out more at www.actela.org  or contact Dr. Dixie Keyes at dkeyes@AState.edu for more information.

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                                                                                                             -- Courtesy ACTELA