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#WhyIChoseEducation: ‘Reaching a Child is Just Very Rewarding,’ Says Ashlyn Scruggs ’15

Ashlyn Scruggs

Ashlyn Scruggs ’15 loves being an eighth-grade social studies teacher. But before she stepped into that role, she was a student teacher working alongside College of Education alumna Lindsey Evans ’09 at Apex Middle School

That experience meant so much to her that, when Evans and Scruggs both took the leap to help open Apex Friendship Middle School as colleagues in 2018, she welcomed student teachers from the College of Education into her classroom as soon as possible.

“I really wanted to give that experience back to somebody,” Ashlyn said.

For Scruggs, giving back goes hand-in-hand with service leadership. Whether she is mentoring student teachers, serving as the yearbook advisor or helping plan a field trip to Washington D.C., Scruggs enjoys having opportunities to support others.

“I love being able to counsel, mentor, and help others to be the best version of themselves that they can be,” Scruggs said.

In addition to her mother, Luann, her father, Marvin — a 1976 graduate of the College of Engineering — and her older sister, Katie — a 2002 graduate of the College of Design — Scruggs credits her youth leaders and teachers with helping her become the person she grew up to be. Her eighth-grade social studies teacher, for example, inspired Scruggs’ passion for history. 

“I feel like it’s so important for kids to understand the practice of civic engagement within their community, state, or country,” Scruggs said “I love teaching history.”

Scruggs knows teaching can be a challenging profession, but she said what keeps her in the classroom is the relationships she has with her students and colleagues. All four of the educators in her professional learning community of eighth-grade social studies teachers at Apex Friendship Middle School  — Scruggs, Evans, Austin Evans ’15 and Summer Thompson Bartlett ’20 — are alumni of the NC State College of Education’s Middle Grades English Language Arts and Social Studies Education program, and one of them, Bartlett, was a student teacher at the middle school in 2020. 

“I truly love who I work with,” Scruggs said.

Whether she’s working with her community of Wolfpack educators or providing a listening ear to a student, Scruggs said she thrives off being around other people and supporting them, in the same way she has been supported by educators her whole life. 

The following interview has been edited for length and clarity. 

Why I Chose Education:

Since I was a kid, I just loved to play school. I loved having my own classroom setup at home. I grew up in a loving, supportive family, and I also had some amazing teachers in the school system I grew up in, Union County. I went through Weddington Elementary, Weddington Middle and Weddington High School. I always had great teachers and I wanted to be that influence for kids as well. 

I have always thought that giving back is huge, whether that is through volunteer opportunities in my youth group growing up, serving in NC State’s College of Education, mentoring a child or student teacher and many other roles I have experienced in my life. A real reason why I teach is to serve other people and give back to them.

Why I Stay in Education:

Honestly, it’s the people. I love working with my colleagues that I’ve been with now for many years. They’ve become a family. I do it for the colleagues and the staff that I get to learn under, lead with and mentor. And I do it for the kids. Building relationships and reaching my students is overall the most rewarding component of my job. That’s what keeps me going back.

What I Enjoyed Most About the College of Education:

I had some really great mentors. Professors like [Associate Professor] Candy Beal and [Professor Emeritus] Carole Pope, they were super influential professors I had while I was there. Clarice Moran ’14PHD and Crystal Simmons ’15PHD, they were in our graduate program when I was student teaching, and they were influential to me with their gifts and passions. Associate Professor Carl Young, Assistant Dean for Assessment and Professional Education Erin Horne — they were all people that I felt like I could resonate with and that would help me get to where I wanted to be in my career. 

To them, you were more than just a number in the system or a grade in the grade book. They actually knew you and took the time to get to know you. I felt very supported in the college, and I liked that it was smaller. You knew a lot of people that were in your program or, even if they weren’t in your program, you knew people that were in education with you striving for the same passions of becoming educators.

What Others Should Know About the College of Education: 

Number one, that you’re going to be supported, and they’re going to put you on the path to try to get you to get a career and get a job and stand out compared to other colleges within the state and within the country. 

At the school where I teach, many of our teachers and staff graduated from NC State. When you’re getting prepared for interviewing for jobs and making sure your licensure requirements are in good standing to teach, the college truly prepares you for that. 

I always felt confident that I could become a successful teacher because of the skill set I was provided through all my classes and the opportunities I was given for leadership within the college. I knew those opportunities were what were going to help me get a job. 

The Last Thing That Inspired Me:

One of the biggest things that inspires me is the strength of my mom, LuAnn. Going through the trauma of losing my dad after being married 32 years, that’s a large mountain to deal with in life. My mom had to be strong for myself and for my sister, and a year after my dad passed, my mom had a genetic kidney disease, and she had to have a bilateral kidney transplant at Duke. 

She is the strongest person I know. She started her own grief share program to help people that are going through grief or loss like she did. She gives back to the community; she gives back to the College of Education. She truly is so inspiring to me. I want to grow up continuing to give like my mom. When I leave this Earth, I want somebody to know that I made an impact on their life. She, my father, and my sister are who have inspired me the most throughout my whole life.