Ms. Ashley Hinkle

Ms. Ashley Hinkle

Mechanicsville Elementary
Hanover County, VA

Who was your favorite teacher? Why?

My favorite teacher was my fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Wiles. She always believed in her students and never stifled their hopes to succeed. She was always positive but maintained a heavy hand on discipline. Every student in her class was the "teacher's pet". She made learning fun and relevant to my life. I have never forgotten her.

What are three things every teacher should own?

1. Computer 2. Sense of Humor 3. A bottle of wine :)

If you could have any person (living, dead or fictional) as a principal, who would it be?

I would love to have Mrs. Frizzle from the Magic School Bus books as my principal. Even though her adventures and herself are in fact fictional, the idea behind "diving into" every learning experience is one that I admire. I would love to work under and alongside someone with that much enthusiasm about learning. I wish all school leaders could take "project based" learning to the next level and live by her example. I know as a teacher, I would be incredibly inspired.

What profession other than your own would you most like to attempt?

I find Occupational Therapy to be a fascinating field. It is a lot like teaching because therapists rehabilitate patients of all ages who have lost both the ability to perform daily tasks and the motivation to get better. Through either an accident, terminal illness, or some other medical tragedy, people undergoing these treatments are a lot like my students. They are tired and lack the self-confidence to learn and practice skills that even they know they need in order to survive. Therapists are exposed to multiple settings through in and outpatient care and need to maintain a positive attitude in hopes that their efforts will be contagious and effective. I would want to be an occupational therapist for the same reasons I became a teacher. I want to inspire the uninspired and reach the unreachable.

Describe your all-time favorite lesson/unit activity.

My favorite unit activity I have done so far in my teaching career was a project called "Hats off to Famous Americans!". After learning about several famous Americans such as Abraham Lincoln, Thurgood Marshall, Helen Keller, Jackie Robinson, George Washington Carver, etc. students were asked to complete a project. The rubric required students to decorate a hat to display the achievements and educate others about their famous American. In addition, students had to wear the hat while giving a speech that they wrote themselves giving advice to people around the world. The speech had to be written as if it were the actual famous American's words. My students had so much fun taking on such important roles and playing an active part in continuing to spread the efforts of their predecessors. The success of the project even inspired me to launch my own program called "Famous American Theatre" where I invited parent and community volunteers to come into the classroom dressed as Famous Americans to teach the students in a more interactive way. To review for standardized/ accumulative testing, I invite the characters all back for a reunion with the class and have funny mock debates and impromptu speeches for the characters to act out in front of the class. This helps students keep track of all the characters they have learned about and be able to distinguish between them.

What is the greatest misconception about teachers?

I think the greatest misconception about teachers is that we are simply "babysitters". Many people, including parents and sometimes even other teachers, perceive the profession as one that takes care of children during the school day instead of actually challenging them. Too often, students at the elementary level, especially, are often given "busy work/fun time activities" that are not curriculum related. A lot of people think that kids aren't having fun if they are learning and that the two concepts can never marry. In my short time as a teacher, I have tried to do my best at educating others on how important it is to teach as much as I can to as many as I can, no matter their age. I also try to show others how much fun children can have when they are discovering new things, rather than just coloring a picture or playing a video game. Education doesn't just happen at the secondary level. Students are never too young to learn higher level cirtical thinking skills and they can certainly have fun doing it!

What stereotype about teachers is true?

I would say one stereotype about teachers is true and that is that we are not afraid to make a complete fool of ourselves to see our children succeed. We might wear crazy costumes, dance, and even sing to engage our students everyday. We sometimes throw celebrations to honor our students' achievement no matter how small the achievement might have been. I think all teachers, or at least those that I have been fortunate enough to know, really take pride in the success of a pupil. We eat, sleep, and live everyday to see it happen. Teaching is a not just a job; it's a lifestyle.

How did you know you wanted to be a teacher?

I had always lived out the "signs" of one who aspires to be a teacher but never seriously sought out the path to become one until much later. Growing up, I always worked part time jobs in fields that surrounded me with children. Jobs such as working in daycare facilities, summer camps, teaching swim lessons, private tutoring, and even nannying prepared me by giving me the fundamentals I would later need to perform well in the field. However, it wasn't until I was in college that I realized how much of teaching was naturally instilled in me. I took a part time job as a substitute teacher to make extra money over holiday breaks. One day, I stumbled upon a fifth grade position at a title one school with a "rough" reputation. Despite my hesitation to take the day's assignment, I took the job anyway. Unfortunately, the teacher left no plans and no emergency plans were available. There I was with 21 fifth graders and no curriculum to provide. I quickly rounded up text books, a kickball, and writing journals. I was able to make it through the day improvising every hour with a new and fun lesson for each subject. Surprised at how easy it came to me, I left the classroom with a smile. As I got ready to leave the building, the school principal called me in her office to let me know that she had stopped by to check on me but I was too engaged in the lesson to notice her. She watched me and said that I "was born to teach". She offered me a full-time teaching position right then. Even though I was flattered, I was only a junior in college and therefore not eligible but I never forgot those words. Her faith in me inspired me to attain my Masters in Education and pursue teaching professionally.

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