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Page link printed 07/19/2018

Affiliation: Alumna

Program: MS, Teaching and Curriculum (Inclusive and English Education)

Awards: 5th Year in Teaching Scholar, Urban Teaching and Leadership (UTL) Program

Education: BA, University of Rochester (English with a Concentration in Theater)

Career: Seventh- and eighth-grade English language arts teacher at Rochester’s Urban Choice Charter School
Ashley Anderson


Ashley Anderson

The traditional way of teaching middle school students about alliteration might include having them write down the definition. But Ashley Anderson is no traditional teacher. She had her students at Rochester’s Urban Choice Charter School do a line dance to understand the repetition of sound.
“They totally got it,” says Anderson, who received a master’s degree in the inclusive and English teacher preparation programs, and is a graduate of Warner’s Urban Teaching and Leadership Program. “If only our youth, especially our urban youth, saw the connections that can happen between music and dance and their core subjects, I think it would really boost their willingness to learn.”
Eventually, she hopes to start an arts education foundation that would use music, dance, sculpting, and other art forms to teach science, math, English, and social studies.
A dancer in a variety of forms for 21 years now, Anderson brings a thought-provoking arts perspective to her classes, a perspective formed through years of performing with major dance companies. She would incorporate math, for example, when drawing mental pictures that helped her stay focused on her spatial intentions. “Everything you did had to fit within your own bubble,” she recalls. In order to emulate the ballet pointe variations that stemmed from classical works in English literature, she had to read parts of Othello and The Canterbury Tales. And science lessons came from choreography in which, at 16, she was paired with a 75-year-old man for a piece exploring the aging process.
As an undergraduate majoring in English, with a theater concentration, at the University of Rochester, she realized she was able to be academically successful in large part because of her involvement in the arts, and in her junior year created a minor she called Artistic Activism: The World of Dance and Politics.
Anderson got the idea for a foundation while at Warner, where she learned to write curriculum and voraciously read culturally relevant pedagogy.
“Warner allowed me to see the endless possibilities in education,” she says. “The professors were always in my corner, and they still want to know how things are going and how they can be of any influence. It’s good to be a part of that community.”
For now, Anderson is gaining experience as a teacher in laying the groundwork for a successful venture down the road.
“I want to give it some time so that I’m not setting myself up for failure,” she says. “You need to be very strategic about setting up something like this so that people latch onto it.”

(Published January 2012)

Tags: english education, inclusive education, teacher preparation, teaching and curriculum