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  • Writer's pictureMadaline Dunn

Learning through play and laying the foundation for students' futures

Updated: Jan 4, 2022

After nearly two decades of teaching, Ashley Coombs, a teacher at Cottonwood Creek Elementary, is as enthusiastic as ever, and the joy she gets from teaching, unmistakable.

Ashley Coombs is in her 18th year of teaching and as a teacher she is as dedicated as she is caring. Teaching both special education and general education students of a range of ages, including three, four, and five-year-olds, Ashley is always pursuing professional development, whether that's taking on training, workshops, or even learning from her colleagues. "It may not earn you professional development, but I think learning from your peers and bouncing ideas off each other is really helpful," she said.

According to Ashley, it's important to keep it fun, hands-on and get students involved when it comes to teaching. She believes teaching students about the real-world applications of mathematics can be hugely beneficial, too. Ashley explained whether it's helping students identify shapes on the flag outside or finding shapes in windows and doors, learning through play is a fundamental building block in math education.

Ashley says that while, when people pass by her classroom door, it may look as though her students are simply playing, they're constantly learning. For Ashley, helping the students learn in this way means that her students know how to use their words, relay how to share, and solve problems, all key core skills.

Ashley's classroom is a mix of special education and general education students, which she says promotes a great sense of inclusivity and understanding amongst students that everyone is different and should be accepted for the way they are. Ultimately, Ashley prides herself on the safe space she creates for her students.

Speaking about the challenges of the last few years, Ashley says communication has been key, and that fellow staff and the administration have made the transition much easier.

Ashley says she simply loves teaching, which shines through when speaking with her, and she gets much of her joy and fulfilment from being her students’ first schooling experience and laying a strong foundation for them for years to come.

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