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Friday, July 19, 2024

Q&A: Meet Ashley Hogan, 2025 teacher of the year  

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A woman holds a certificate and flowers in a hallway
Hogan stands with her award certificate and a bouquet of flowers. (Photo/Josh Gurnick)

Ashley Hogan, an eighth-grade teacher at Adelante Schools at Emma Donnan School 72, was named one of IPS’ two teachers of the year.  

Hogan sat down with reporter Kayla Barlow from the Indianapolis Recorder to talk about what teaching means to her.  

This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  

Kayla Barlow: You’re recently named one of the two IPS districts teacher of the year. What does this achievement mean to you?  

Ashley Hogan: Honestly, it’s monumental just because my grandmother taught for 25 years and she’s the one who instilled in me the value of education as a minority woman. My dad being a principal and going back into teaching, my mom retired from IPS — I’m just carrying on a legacy that I think is very impactful. I just feel that I want to make a claim with the Hogan last name.  

Barlow: What obstacles did you overcome along your path to becoming a teacher and how do they inform your teaching? 

Hogan: There were some situations when I was younger, where I had teachers who overlooked me. That helped motivate me to become a teacher who makes sure all my students felt seen and heard. 

students stand with signs congratulating their teachers
Hogan’s students clap and hold up congratulatory signs while celebrating her award at a hallway pep rally. (Photo/ Josh Gurnick)

Barlow: What are some of the things you’ve seen that have shown you that you’re making that difference in your classroom?  

Hogan: I’m really big on relationships with my families. I think building that relationship with them helps them take risks with their academics. And so, because of that, everybody in my class grew at least 40 points on their benchmark assessments. And that’s really big, especially some of them who had been retained (held back) at least once. To see them grow, that was the biggest success for me.  

Barlow: I know because sometimes if you’re retained, you might be behind. Or you might be the opposite, you might have a better knowledge of those foundational skills. How did you ensure that the (retained students) were kind of getting the extra support that they needed, while also making sure that the students who hadn’t been retained were also getting that support? 

Hogan: I felt like it was weird just to ostracize the set of scholars because whatever I was using for them could be transferred to my scholars who were on grade level. So, it really just came down to checking into my scholars, giving them feedback, making sure to check for understanding. And then, making them believe in themselves that, hey, you guys can do this.’ And I would always say like, ‘look at me, you know, I had an IEP. I really struggled and yet I was able to do it. It’s not going to be easy. There’s going to be times where you’re going to feel defeated that you’re going to want to give up, but it’s the small wins and the effort that makes the biggest difference’, and I think that confidence which ended up giving them the growth in their academics.  

Barlow: How did you help them celebrate those small wins to keep their morale high?  

Hogan: My biggest thing was just giving them love and just shouting them out every single day, every single minute to where I could. And that kind of just speaks to one of our core values, solidarity. It shows them we are a family. We see you, we celebrate you and we’re going to continue doing that.  

Barlow: What other languages do you speak? Are you able to use them in your teaching as well? 

Hogan: I went to the International high school of Indiana growing up from K through eight, and there I was able to pick up Spanish and French. One of my classes actually more than half of my kids were native Spanish speakers. So, because of that I actually taught in Spanish and in English to one, give them the materials they need and that English teaching as well.  

Barlow: The students who are native Spanish speakers, after having you teach to them in Spanish, did they have an increase in test scores as well? 

Hogan: Absolutely. I think data is connected not just to academic learning but relationships as well. Because I was able to communicate with them in their native language, they were able to willingly engage in their academics. There were times where you really just saw the light in their faces just below when they were able to start understanding our English language and able to participate in class using English. That was a huge win for me. 

Barlow: In the same way, what are some techniques that you use to help students with learning disabilities and did they also see an increase in scores? 

Hogan: I am big on social academics, learning from your peers I even incorporated some fun games. Anything that is, in a sense, non-traditional teaching is my method of teaching just because I know sitting there for like eight hours at a time in a seat and just trying to stay focused isn’t always appropriate. These are still kids who need to socialize, so I’d rather you guys get up and move around and talk about academics rather than talking about x, y and z.  

Barlow: Do you think having a teacher who is a person of color has an influence on the students?  

Hogan: I think that is really helpful when it comes to the kids trying to relate to their teachers.  And I think with my kids, they were able to do that is because I’m Black and African American and I also am a single mother. Having those three factors, a lot of them could relate.  

A woman stands with her hands over her face in surprise as she enters a classroom
Ashely Hogan, one of two IPS teachers of the year, is surprised with her award. (Photo / Josh Gurnick)

Barlow: What do you want your old students to remember about you as a teacher, your classroom, when they’re when they’re looking back years from now? 

Hogan: I want them to remember that I had a voice in Ms. Hogan’s classroom. As long as they remember that they had a voice and they had a safe space to voice their concerns, then that is perfection to me.  

Barlow: Sometimes students can be afraid to raise their hand. How do you make sure that they know that they have that voice and that they’re confident and comfortable enough to express it?  

Hogan: Before I have them raise their hands, I try to make it to where they discuss with someone else first. That way they can voice their opinion to someone else before I hear, and then I’ll say ‘Hey, I’m going to call on you’ before we do whole group share out and so they can prepare. That way, they feel more confident with their saying. I always tell them whether you’re wrong or right, be confident and say it with your chest. 

Barlow: What influence do you hope to have on the lives of your students?  

Hogan: I just want them to know that they can do it. I mean, it’s just as simple as that. They are capable of doing it. 

Contact Indianapolis Recorder Intern Kayla Barlow at kaylab@indyrecorder.com.

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