Teacher Feature: Anna Aswell excels in her purpose

By April Clark Honaker

Anna Aswell is in her tenth year at Hillcrest Elementary where she teaches kindergarten. Aswell graduated from Louisiana Tech University in 2013 with a bachelor’s in elementary education and special education. Her first two years at Hillcrest were spent in the special education classroom.

Then, the principal at the time, Patrice Hilton, saw a need for Aswell in the regular education classroom, and she’s been there ever since. “Having the background in special education helps me help students that might need more reinforcement,” she said.

Aswell was recently selected Teacher of the Year at Hillcrest, an award she said she was both excited and emotional to receive. “You don’t like to toot your own horn,” she said, “so it’s nice to be recognized by your peers. It makes you feel like you’re making a difference.”

To expand her already top-notch skills, Aswell is currently taking courses toward a master’s degree and a special certification for teaching students for whom English is a second language. Aswell said they have a high population of these students at Hillcrest, and she is learning how to better support their learning as they are also learning English.

In her ten years of teaching Aswell has seen quite a lot of changes, but she said the biggest change she has seen is the rise of technology. It’s now commonplace in the classroom and students are frequently using activities on tablets, especially for math.

“I can see where it’s good. It reinforces what you’ve been teaching,” Aswell said, “but I don’t like to give them too much screen time. I’m more hands-on, but technology is here to stay, so you have to kinda go with it. I try to make it as fun as I can though.”

In kindergarten, it’s important to make learning fun, limit frustration and really set a positive tone for the rest of their education. Aswell strives to do these things.

Her favorite thing about teaching kindergarten is just witnessing the enormous growth children go through in that one year. “It’s amazing to me,” she said.

Like many young adults, while Aswell was in college, she wasn’t initially sure of her calling. She was majoring in nursing when she had a dream that was basically telling her that she needed to be a teacher. She didn’t listen the first time. “I was trying to run away from that, but it runs in my blood,” she said.

When Aswell had the same dream a second time, she knew it was time to listen and follow in her family members’ footsteps. “I don’t regret it,” she said. “I found what I was supposed to do in my life. I found my purpose.”

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