Candace Ashworth is the computer science teacher at Gardendale Elementary School and the E-Team leader. She has had an important role through the pandemic, while helping educate students and teachers in new platforms and helping ease the transition to a new world of technology in education.
Candace took some time to join our Teacher Spotlight Series and let us know more about her and her journey in education.
Treye Hanner: Tell us a little about you and how you decided to become a teacher?
Candace Ashworth: I grew up in the small town of Oneonta, Alabama. I attended UAB where I was a member of Alpha Omicron Pi, serving as President my last year. My husband Rusty and I married in June 2008 and moved to Gardendale in April 2009. We have two boys, Hudson (9) and Ryder (7) who attend Gardendale Elementary.
I have always been a teacher. I was a student teacher at Mrs. Kelley’s School of Dance, I taught swimming lessons while I was a lifeguard at the Oneonta City Pool, and I served as assistant swim team coach for two summers. I didn’t enter college as an education major, but I knew in my heart that’s what God had planned for me. So, after my first semester, I changed my major from marketing to elementary education.
Treye Hanner: What is your favorite part of being a teacher?
Candace Ashworth: The relationships we form are a huge part of what makes being a teacher so awesome. When I came to Gardendale Elementary in the fall of 2014, I left the traditional classroom setting and became the technology teacher.
As a resource teacher, having a front row seat to see students grow physically, emotionally, and academically, from kindergarten to fifth grade is just the coolest thing. I cry every year when I have to tell my 5th graders farewell. They have been one of “my kids” for 6 years and I am truly sad when they leave.
Treye Hanner: Are there special moments where you say to yourself, “this is why I teach?”
Candace Ashworth: In my classroom, students use a variety of technology. As part of my class, all students learn how to write code using Blockly, a kid friendly coding language. It’s really neat to see kids that might struggle in other areas academically, or even socially, be successful writing code. The look of accomplishment and sense of pride on a student’s face reminds me why I became a teacher.
Treye Hanner: What challenges have you experienced while having to teach through the pandemic?
Candace Ashworth: Technology is constantly changing. When the pandemic first started, many schools across the globe were using Google Classroom and Zoom to reach students at home. As we returned to school in the fall of 2020, our district, along with many others, switched to Schoology, a Learning Management System. This meant teachers, students, and parents had to learn how to use a brand-new platform.
People often forget teachers don’t just teach core subjects; they are constantly in professional development learning how to use the latest technology to enhance student learning. As the E-Team leader for our school, part of my job is training and supporting teachers on using technology in the classroom. Learning never stops for a teacher.
Treye Hanner: What’s the one thing you would like people to know about teachers?
Candace Ashworth: Teachers give so much of their personal time and money to make their classroom a success. In May, teachers can’t wait for summer. But by July 1st, they want to know if the floors have been waxed so they can start organizing and decorating their classroom for the next school year.
They grade papers while they sit at ball practice. They pick up extra snacks at the grocery store for the student that never has a snack. They donate money to the book fair so no student feels left out when they can’t afford a book.
They love your child and want the best for them.