Get to Know Our 20 Finalists!

Ashley Schwabero of Roscoe taught Kindergarten at Walker School, then Ledgewood for her first seven years of teaching. She is in her second year teaching fourth grade at Prairie Hill Elementary. Ashley is a master collaborator: she works with teachers, administrators, parents, therapists, paraprofessionals, special education teachers and other staff members to provide the best educational experience possible. Ashley’s principal, peers, students and their parents commend her communication skills, classroom environment and dedication. Principal Kevin Finnegan noted that she has “developed ways to better monitor the struggles of students in danger of falling through the cracks because, while low, they were not low enough to receive extra services.” In an exercise about fairness, each of Ashley’s students was instructed to reach for candy inside a bucket tied to the ceiling. Only the taller ones could reach. As chairs or steps were added, each child was able to succeed, demonstrating her philosophy that, “in order to reach the same goal, different students need different levels of support.” Ashley wants her students to feel safe and encouraged. Once trust is established, they can focus on learning. That trust carries over to students’ families. One parent shared, “When you find a person you completely trust with the well-being of your child, you’ve found an outstanding human being! Our child is a better person and we are better parents because of her.” Another wrote, “we trust her beyond measure to embrace what our child needs to soar! She takes time to inform parents of content and skills being learned and offers options [for supporting] that learning.” Finnegan also wrote, “Good teachers are great with students. Awesome teachers are great with students and parents. Truly transcendent teachers make an indelible impact with the students, their community and their building.”