Bethany J. Royer
PIQUA — It’s hard to miss the bright green tennis balls on chair feet to keep scuff marks at bay, not to mention curb squeaks as students come and go in Ashley Schulte’s room at Piqua Catholic, one both spacious and decorated quite to the tastes of her dozen first graders.
“Everything is going pretty well,” said Schulte when asked about how the school year was going so far as she put the finishing touches on her third week back after a six week maternity leave and shared what brought her to the school that welcomed six new faculty members in the fall.
For Schulte, the story begins with what she states were great experiences with her former teachers that brought her to a teaching career.
“I had so many great teachers,” said the former North Star resident and Versailles High School graduate. “They really made the learning memorable and we did so many things that I’ve hung on to. I want to help influence people like my teachers influenced me.”
Now residing in Maria Stein, Schulte returned to the area not after graduating from Bowling Green as she resided with her sister in the Columbus area for a while. Or after marrying an Ohio State graduate and making their home in Reynoldsburg, as the elementary teacher went on to spend five years teaching first grade at an academy for the large Somalian refugee population in the Columbus area.
“The school I taught, I had mostly English language learners,” explained Schulte which proved to be a challenge at times. “I was new to teaching and the students had really great (language) needs.”
However, what was initially a challenge became a priceless learning experience for Schulte, as she discovered strategies for struggling readers and writers, something she would bring with her to Piqua Catholic. As the family with a four year old and one on the way, with not a lot of relatives in the area, desired to return to the area before the arrival of a second child.
“It was kind of hard, every time we wanted to visit grandma, it was a two hour drive,” said Schulte of the family’s eventual move in correlation with her hire at Piqua Catholic. “I was really fortunate to be offered the position, knowing that I was going to be due at the beginning of the school year.
Woehrmyer hoped at the time that if the school thought she would make a good fit, things would work out, and with long-term substitute experience in the past and good communication, the transition from sub to teacher went smoothly for all.
“At first the kids were, ‘but we did this’,” said Schulte. “I was really fortunate to have Barbara Caserta, she’s taught in the school before and she has a lot of teaching experience. I was really lucky to have her because she was a great role model for the kids and really got them working hard right away.”
When asked about what has stood out so far at the new school, Schulte stated it was the family atmosphere and the staff working so well together and looking out for one another. And when it comes to the future, she was pleased to have her reading groups started while sharing her excitement about the upcoming second quarter with the kindergarten through fourth grades to take part in guided reading.
“Where the kids might leave their room and go to a teacher who has a group at their specific reading level,” explained Schulte. “I think it’ll be good for the kids to break up their day a little bit, I think everybody needs to be reading with kids like them. It’s something new and they’ve got some extra teachers to help with it, too.”