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Inspire: Carlisle's Knight changes the student mindset on science
Carlisle Area School District

Inspire: Carlisle's Knight changes the student mindset on science

From the Inspire 2019: Teaching our youth in Cumberland County series
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Chemistry is the key to a good reaction in students — Ashley Knight knows the formula.

“I love working with kids,” the Carlisle native said. “I enjoy building connections with them.”

Every fall, a new group of sixth-graders enters her earth science classroom at Lamberton Middle School.

Many are so nervous about the subject area they convince themselves it’s too hard. They won’t enjoy it. They expect instead to labor through it pushed outside their comfort zone.

For Knight, it’s all just part of the challenge and the reward of returning to her hometown. “I am able to give back to the community,” she said. "Everyone rallies around each other. Everyone is willing to support you if they know you can make an impact."

The biggest impact Knight has made is proving her students wrong ... getting them to change their mindset and to make science a labor of love.

“You can achieve your dreams but you have to work at it,” Knight said. “It is not always easy in the beginning but perseverance will get you to the goal.”

It started early for Knight when she connected with teachers in kindergarten through second grade. It continued on through with her playing school with her siblings or by herself. Today, she is not only a classroom teacher but a leader in the school community.

Knight is co-chair of the Carlisle Area School District United Way campaign which hopes to raise $45,000 this year. She is the head coach of the junior varsity girls’ basketball team. As the intermural director at Lamberton, Knight organized a back-to-school event that took students to Fuller and Laurel lakes as an opportunity to mingle and make new friends.

“You have to have some kind of passion for the leadership role,” Knight said. "You have to be willing to make changes that can better the cause you are supporting.

“Teachers can make an impact by building relationships with students,” she added. “A good teacher is a person willing to go the extra mile to ensure their students have the best experience.”

This philosophy transcends the classroom to teachers attending sports events and other extracurricular activities. It is all about knowing and supporting the whole student.

Ashley Knight

Carlisle Area School District

Age: 31

Family: Although I am not married, I have a large, loving family and many wonderful friends

Profession: sixth-grade science teacher at Lamberton Middle School

Birth place: Carlisle

Where you live now: Carlisle

Q. What do you like best about what you do?

Teaching allows me to impact the lives of my students. I take pride in the rapport that I am able to build with them each year. I enjoy celebrating their successes and helping them with their struggles. I enjoy working with kids because not only am I teaching them lessons, but I am also learning from them as well.

Q. What is the toughest challenge you face?

In teaching, there is not an even educational playing field because so many kids come with so many outside struggles, and that makes it tougher because I only have 45 minutes a day with them. My heart breaks for my sixth grade students who have to go home where they are sometimes responsible for their younger siblings. So often they struggle with completing assignments outside of school because of their responsibilities at home.

Q. What do you like best about working in your school district?

I love the way that teachers and staff support our students. We are always doing what’s in the best interest of our students and their safety. We have mentoring programs that allow teachers to work with students outside of the classroom.

Q. What are the key elements you see in effective teachers?

Effective teachers are those who are willing to adjust their lessons to meet the needs of students and provide a nurturing environment for all their students. They also accept feedback and are willing to make changes even if it stretched the, outside of their comfort zone. Overall an effective teacher enjoys working with youth and making a difference in their lives.

Q. What work is left to do?

Our government needs to continue supporting public schools and not cut funding. A lot of districts are being tasked with trying to make ends meet while still trying to not to cut any programs (curricular and non-curricular) and maintaining reasonable class sizes.

Email Joseph Cress at jcress@cumberlink.com.

"You can achieve your dreams but you have to work at it. It is not always easy in the beginning but perseverance will get you to the goal."

— Ashley Knight

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