North Carolina's Ashton Wheeler Clemmons came to HGSE wanting to expand her views on public education. Through conversations with students and faculty, Clemmons feels even more passionate and focused about her future work as a school leader.
"Ashton has been an inspirational leader for the School Leadership Program (SLP) all year long, both in and out of the classroom," says Professor Thomas Hehir, director of SLP. "Her classmates acknowledge that her insistence on reflective practice and passion to create positive change is infectious. She is an advocate for social justice with a clear sense of identity and purpose. Perhaps most importantly, Ashton is an incredibly welcoming person who has helped transform the program into a true learning community."
This fall Clemmons hopes to find work as public school assistant principal. Upon learning that she had been honored with the Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Award for SLP, Clemmons answered some questions about her time at the Ed School and beyond.
What was your goal upon entering the Ed School?
In coming to HGSE, I hoped to gain a more expanded view of public education through conversation with students and faculty from around the country. Ultimately I wanted to learn new skills and ideas to use in school leadership positions to positively impact traditional public schools in my home of North Carolina.
Is that goal any different now?
I still feel very passionately about my future role working as a school leader to benefit traditional public schools in North Carolina. I feel more focused on the importance of school principals and teachers creating an example of excellence in traditional public schools.
What is something that you learned at HGSE that you will take with you throughout your career in education?
Before I came to HGSE I was interested in the big picture of education and while I continue to be interested in the entire sector, I feel more focused on the importance of school leadership and excellent teaching in local communities.
How did you stay inspired throughout the year?
During the year when I felt overwhelmed or frustrated, I went to a kindergarten or first-grade classroom at my internship site and worked with children. For me, working with students so excited about learning and schooling refocused my attention and work.
What advice do you have for next year's students going through your program?
The people in your program, and in other HGSE programs, are an invaluable resource. Some classes provide time for conversations between participants and I urge students to create time to talk with their colleagues.
If you could change one thing about education today, what would it be and why?
Public education limits itself by being confined to traditional roles, structures, and goals. If we could expand our work and efforts, I think we would be more prepared to meet the needs of our students and communities.
2009 Intellectual Contribution/Faculty Tribute Award Recipients
Suzannah Holsenbeck, TEP
Elisha Brookover, L&L'09
Mangala Nanda, IEP'09
Andrew Cabot, SS'09
Nancy Schoolcraft, MBE'09
Joe Baker, EPM'09
Kathy Yang, L&T'09
Angelica Brisk, AIE'09
Melissa Mayes, R&P'09
Jerome "Jay" Green, HDP'09
Ashton Wheeler Clemmons, SLP'09
Terri-Nicole Singleton, TIE'09
Emily Almas, HE'09