Join us in congratulating undergraduate student Ashley Coulter for her acceptance into the Teach For America (TFA) corps. TFA appealed to Ashley because “I didn’t have to change or present myself in a certain way to be accepted as a TFA corps member. TFA aligned with the person I already am.”
And that person is a born leader and educator. Ashley has done everything from instructing children’s Taekwondo to teaching classes for high school seniors in the Governor’s Scholars Program (and many other things in between). As Ashley said, “I’m passionate about education and teaching and I’m passionate about fighting injustice and inequality,” which is what Teach For America’s mission is all about: to provide an excellent education for kids in low-income communities. They are confident she has what it takes to lead a high school English class.
Ashley is a WKU English Literature and Philosophy double major with a minor in Women’s Studies; as Ashley said, “In other words, I read and write.” These are talents many English majors possess, but Ashley utilized those skills to set herself apart from other Teach For America applicants:
“The first and largest impression the selection committee has is an applicant’s writing. My training in the discipline of English has helped me immensely in this area. I was able to write captivating narratives instead of a monotonous list of my accomplishments. The various styles of writing I have done through my English major allowed me to approach the questions and essays with confidence and creativity. And as a reader, I could anticipate what a general (boring) answer would be and then purposely write something way out in left field so that I would stand out in their minds.”
And it worked! Two weeks after she graduates from WKU this May, Ashley will begin orientation for Teach For America. She’ll be in the classroom teaching English and, as Ashley said, “life lessons” to high school students in Indianapolis starting August 1st of this year. She’ll also be enrolled in a local partner university to complete her Master of Arts in Teaching by the end of her two-year commitment to TFA.
When asked if she had advice for other students who are thinking about applying to Teach For America, Ashley had this to say:
“Be yourself. That’s so cliché it makes me want to vomit, but it’s true. They want down-to-earth, imperfect, hard-working individuals. They want applicants to be honest about their shortcomings. They want to hear what you are nervous or doubtful about. And really, you’ve got to be viscerally passionate about it. I doubt anyone could be a successful corps member if they weren’t.”
Ashley also wanted to give “special thanks to Dr. Dale Rigby for writing an impeccable recommendation and Cheryl Kirby-Stokes for mentoring me through the entire process.”
Our Department Head, Dr. Rob Hale had this to say about her:
“Ashley led orientation activities for our new English Majors in WKU’s MasterPlan program this summer, so I saw her work in front of students first-hand. She’s a natural teacher and has an engaging classroom presence. I know she’s going to be a great success in Teach for America.”