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Heather Ashley's Cover Story for the

Heather Ashley's Cover Story for the VEA Journal: Don't Get Trapped by Social Media
Heather Ashley

“It’s the sprinkles on the cupcake,” said Heather Ashley as she talked about her article making the front cover of the Virginia Education Association’s Journal for February 2014.  She commented to a friend that “besides becoming a Master Teacher, getting my NETS*T certification , and having been the SCEA President for a few years, this is the biggest thing in my teaching career.”   Click to read her article:  http://www.veanea.org/home/582.htm

Heather, a Shenandoah County Technology teacher, describes her article, “Don’t Get Trapped by Social Media,” as a kind of “Internet Safety” lesson for teachers and other educators.  The idea for the story popped into Heather’s mind last June.  Within twenty-four hours of pitching her story to the editor of the VEA Journal,   she learned her query was successful and began writing.  Front-page status, which she did not know about until January, added “sprinkles to her cupcake” for the VEA Journal was already home to five of Heather’s articles published between 2004-2008.     All of these previous articles had been quality pieces—so timely and well-written that they were selected for publication by a state-level periodical.  However, none of these had enough sparkle to shine on the front page.  “Don’t Get Trapped by Social Media” stand up and take a bow!

Heather with her VEA Cover Story“Few things can ruin an educator’s career faster than a slip-up on social media,” Heather’s article begins.  “It can literally happen overnight.”  In Don’t Get Trapped by Social Media, Heather points out that today’s teachers are stressed and busy---much as teachers always have been.   Some educators, however, argue that today’s teachers--with increased accountability for student learning and the rushed lifestyle of the 21stcentury--are possibly busier and more stressed than teachers have ever been.   And, to complicate the harried situation, they seem to have less time to consult one another or to simply “let off steam” in person.

 “Enter social media,” Heather wrote, “the perfect answer to connecting during a busy life.”   Her article emphasizes the risks involved if “we’re not very thoughtful about how we use it.”  Heather is quick to point out that VEA lawyers and friends who are lawyers read and sometimes edited her work to be certain she “got it right.” 

LOGO Virginia Education AssociationTom Allen, editor of the VEA Journal sent this comment.   "Heather Ashley's article offers some excellent advice for educators as they try to take advantage of the good things social media offers while ensuring that they also use it professionally and carefully." 

 Heather Ashley, who is currently a Technology Instructor for Sandy Hook Elementary School and Signal Knob Middle School, has taught in Shenandoah County for twenty years.  A 1987 graduate of Strasburg High School, she has taught all grade levels and was an adjunct professor at Lord Fairfax Community College for three years.   As the instructor of the first Internet course offered in Shenandoah County, she has also taught administrators during a specially created staff development course. 

 

Heather, who holds a  Bachelor in Arts in English Literature with certification to teach English K-12 from Mary  Baldwin College and a Masters of Science in Computers in Education (December 1999) from Shenandoah University,  decided she wanted to be a teacher when she was in high school.  During her college years however, her career choice wavered a bit, and she began to think of teaching as a “back-up plan.”   She thought she might like a career in science and computers.  After graduation, she went to work for American Computer Rentals, Woodstock Internal Medicine, and Bayer where the natural teacher inside surfaced as she often taught associates ways to be more productive.  It was praise from these co-workers about her ability to help them learn that gave her the confidence to apply for a teaching position a Strasburg High School in January 1995.

 

Heather was first hired mid-year, and just by chance, her room was across hall from Dan Rinker, a chemistry teacher and computer aficionado who became “a wonderful mentor,” wrote Heather.  “Somehow he fostered my skills and would allow me to use his Mac over lunch to get on this thing called the ‘Internet.’   With his positive attitude, I felt confident to apply to be the first instructor to teach the first Internet class in SCPS at Triplett Tech.”   Dan Rinker, she wrote, “taught way more than Science & Chemistry!  he fostered lifelong learning by teaching by example. That’s the sign of a great teacher!”

 

While  Heather’s first love is teaching,  a close second is writing.    “I grew up writing,” she said, and especially remembers writing poetry when she was only nine years old.  In addition to the six VEA Journal articles, Heather’s work has appeared in Great Ideas for Long-Term Care,  Poetry from the Valley of Virginia, WashTrends, the Shenandaoh Valley Herald, WVPT NTTI Lesson Plans, Super Teacher Worksheets, and her own blog which offers  “technology lessons  at http://mrsashleytechnology.blogspot.com   Created just for working folks  like yourself who want to learn a little more about computers in a fun way!”

“If I could just get a children’s book published!”  Heather sighed.  She has at least twenty completed children’s book manuscripts-- many are based on stories about her grandmothers.  She knows that multiple rejections are the rule for authors, but “my feelings are hurt when a story is rejected and I don’t want to send it out again,” she said. “I do not plan to self-publish,” Heather added.    I want to follow the traditional publishing route.”   For Heather Ashley, “It’s not about the money.  It’s about being chosen.” 

 Heather is a member and past-president of the Shenandoah County Education Association   She is also a member of the Shenandoah  Chamber of Commerce, the Virginia Society for Technology Education (VSTE), the Mid-Valley Technology Consortium, and the Society of Children’s  Book Writers and Illustrators.  Heather has presented at VSTE conferences and VEA conferences.

 

She is also a certified eBay instructor and together with her husband owns three car wash locations, two coin laundromats, a couple commercial rentals, and several residential rentals.  While maintaining all of the financials for those companies, she is also active with the Mid-Atlantic Car Wash Association and is set to become the first female president in May 2014.

 

Logo USA Pres CHurchHeather is an ordained elder of the Woodstock Presbyterian Church.  She  has volunteered her time and expertise to organize Santa Claus Is Coming to Town in Mt. Jackson,  helps with the Autumnfest in Woodstock, and has assisted with the Strasburg Mayfest for over twelve years.

Heather has not strayed far from her childhood home.  A Shenandoah County native, she grew up in Maurertown and married her childhood sweetheart, the boy down the street.   Heather and Mike and Cookie, their Cockapoo,   live in Woodstock.  Cookie, who by the way has a blog  (http://cookiethecockapoo.blogspot.com), doesn’t know it, but Heather has plans for her to earn a therapy badge and certification to be qualified to visit elderly folks in their homes. 

 Maybe Cookie will become the star of a new Heather Ashley children’s book that will be published.  Not that Heather needs to add any more credits to her resume, but it would be a dream come true for this teacher, author, business woman, church leader, and community volunteer. 

 
Cookie asks on her blog:  Did you ever have a 
butterfly on your nose?

Heather is interested in forming “a tiny writing group with no high expectations, just motivation.
  Mainly via email but who knows, we might get together!”  Anyone interested may contact Heather via email:
hrashley@shenandoah.k12.va.us