After a long day teaching math and language, monitoring video classes, dealing with discipline issues, and planning school activities, Ashley Araujo (’11, Master’s ’13) heads straight to the gym for a volleyball game. Despite being tired, it’s important for her to be there—she’s got her girls to support. She can get dinner later.
It’s typical for Ashley, who works and lives at Hope Children’s Home, to spend almost the entire day working with children. And, despite the long hours, it’s her dream job. When Ashley began her college career at PCC eleven years ago, she felt confident in her decision to major in elementary education. However, this confidence was often combined with the sense that she would be doing something a bit different than working in a traditional school setting.
Once Ashley learned about an open teaching position at Hope Children’s Home in Tampa, Florida, she knew that the job was a perfect match for her. “I knew without a doubt that this is where God was calling me,” Ashley said. “I loved the idea of educating these hurting children and enabling them to walk away from their past and into a brighter future.”
Having begun her sixth year at Hope, Ashley’s responsibilities involve much more than simply working in the classroom. In addition to teaching, Ashley acts as the elementary principal, a position which has her dealing with struggling students, observing and training new teachers, and planning field trips and other events for the children.
Yet, her job is not complete when the school day ends. Nights are busy at Hope with activities such as basketball and volleyball games, play practice, music lessons, homework, and dinner. Ashley takes these opportunities to build relationships with the children whether through tutoring, cheering athletes on during a sporting event, or talking to the younger children on one of the playgrounds. Working with the children has become a year-in and year-out pursuit for Ashley. “Here at the children’s home, I get the beautiful opportunity to watch my students grow from year to year,” Ashley said. “Knowing that I played a role in their success means a lot to me.”
Ashley feels confident that part of her success as a teacher and elementary principal is from her time at PCC. “I think that the educational program at PCC is truly top notch. When I first started teaching, I never felt unprepared to handle any task thrown my way,” she said. Ashley credits her time as an intern at Pensacola Christian Academy as one of the most valuable parts of her education.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed being a teacher but especially a teacher at a Christian school. Being able to share my faith with my students is important to me,” Ashley said. “My absolute favorite part about teaching is knowing that I have made a difference in a child’s life.”