Educator Suzanne Ashmore has parents in Chartiers‐Houston School District doing doubletakes at the dinner table. After all, it’s not often that students are eager to talk about what they did in school that day, let alone say that they mummified hot dogs, threw the first snowball at the Boston Massacre, or bartered for goods in a Middle Eastern market. But in Mrs. Ashmore’s classroom, extraordinary learning activities happen on a regular basis.
“I try to make history enjoyable,” Suzanne remarked. “I do things a little bit differently every year because the kids change from year to year.”
Keeping everyone on their toes is a strategy that is delivering results. As the students in her World Cultures and AP U.S. History classes will tell you, motivating them to learn through these types of unique, interactive experiences is definitely one of her strengths. But the kids aren’t the only ones who are getting schooled. Often, she lets them play the role of teacher, showing her the latest teen‐approved technology that she can incorporate into her lessons and share with colleagues.
After graduating from Trinity High School, Suzanne studied history at Yale University. She returned to this area with her degree and spent a number of years in social work before deciding to stay home to raise her family. But as her children grew, Suzanne realized that she could not resist the call of the classroom. Now, she couldn’t imagine having any other career.
“I love teaching high school kids. This is such an exciting time in their lives,” she remarked. That enthusiasm has truly resonated with her students, helping her to earn their trust. She admits that sometimes just taking a few minutes to show that you care by listening can make all the difference to students who are struggling with homework or issues at home.
Chartiers‐Houston School District Superintendent John George remarks, “Suzanne’s attitude is one that implies ‘children are important.’ It is a delight to watch her interact with students.”
In addition to inspiring in the classroom, Suzanne also sponsors numerous student groups
including the National Honor Society, the LEO Club (a community service club), Students Helping Others (a group that fundraises for the Washington Hospital Foundation’s Teen Outreach Program), and Students in Action (a national youth recognition and reward program). Her mission is to teach kids lessons that can’t always be found in a textbook – like
how to be a good citizen and a compassionate volunteer – and she leads by example through her involvement with organizations such as Community Action Southwest and the American Cancer Society.
“I hope and pray that one day I can be half the woman Mrs. Suzanne Ashmore is and touch the lives of as many people as she has,” stated Amanda Henderson, a former student who helped to coordinate the award nomination. “She is not just a teacher to her students – she is an incredible friend.”
Working with kids of different abilities at a time when they are just discovering who they are,
Suzanne often can see the potential in them that sometimes they cannot see themselves. “Every student has a bright spot,” she stated. “I encourage all of my kids to pursue their passions and find something they love to do.”
And for that, Mrs. Ashmore isn’t just teaching history – she’s making it.