Passion for Science, Students Leads Ashley Bailey ‘00 to be Honored as 2020 North Carolina Charter School Teacher of the Year

The announcement came over the Roxboro Community School loudspeaker — Ashley Bailey ‘00 had been named the 2020 North Carolina Charter School Teacher of the Year. Soon after, 2019 North Carolina Charter School Teacher of the Year Douglas Price ‘13MED, 2019 North Carolina Teacher of the Year Mariah Morris and other members of the school community were standing in Bailey’s classroom for a celebration.

In front of the class, Morris read quote after quote from appreciative parents and students, but there was one quote from a student Bailey said meant the most to her: “She loves science and she made us love it too.”

“At the end of the day, it’s not about did they remember this or that?” said Bailey. “It’s, did they develop a love for it and appreciation for the topic? And so that was really special for me to hear.”

At Roxboro Community, Bailey teaches biology — the study of all living things. Such a broad topic can feel intimidating, but for Bailey, that just means endless possibilities. Even if her students don’t love every topic, she hopes they leave her class having found one they enjoy.

“I asked them what their favorite thing was that they had learned this year,” said Bailey. “What was their favorite activity? And they were all able to easily come up with some that they love. That’s the goal.”

To accomplish that goal, she makes sure her students know science is for everyone.

“They have this picture in their head of Albert Einstein, and that’s the only person that can do science,” said Bailey. “And so I love getting them excited about it and getting their hands dirty — let’s move around and let’s act out the processes.”

In the process of teaching her students, she focuses on getting to know more about their lives, too.

“If I know that they are in the jazz band, or they play a sport or they do something outside of school, I try to ask them about that,” said Bailey.

She teaches ninth- through 12th-graders, and enjoys watching the excited freshmen grow into juniors and seniors who are just beginning to plan their lives. When she was their age, she entered NC State as an engineering major, but she soon decided it wasn’t for her. Instead, she decided to double major in biology and secondary science education.

She has vivid memories of student teaching at Athens Drive High School, and she said she’s particularly grateful for a class where she learned how to interact with students with special needs.

“Our professors had done such a good job of getting us ready for what we needed to go out and be educators,” said Bailey. “I’m definitely grateful to the College of Education for laying the groundwork.”

Now she’s laying the groundwork for her students at Roxboro Community School.

“I love that I teach every child that comes through that grade level because I can look at that senior class, and I know that I taught all those students,” Bailey said.

And teaching those students leaves a lasting impact. A few weeks before being named the North Carolina Charter School Teacher of the Year, without knowing whether or not she would win, her school surprised her with an assembly, just to let her know how much she meant to them.

“We already know she is No. 1,” said Roxboro Community School Principal Darkarai Bryant. “In and outside of the classroom.”