On, Monday, December 16, Ashdown Public Schools recognized their campus Teachers of the Year and announced the District Teacher of the Year. Teachers from each campus were able to vote for their Teacher of the Year and a special committee with much difficulty chose AHS teacher Jennifer Simmons as the District Teacher of the Year.
According to a press release, the Teachers of the Year for Ashdown Elementary are Gerina Ritter; L.F. Henderson - Diana Blankenship; AJHS - Lacy Shamsie; AHS - Jennifer Simmons. Ashdown Superintendent Casey Nichols said, “I am so proud of these amazing teachers! Each and every day they go above and beyond for our students in order to provide them with the best education possible! They love, protect, and help each and every student, they know our students and meet them where they are to give them what is needed in order for them to grow into educated and productive citizens.”
Mrs. Ritter is an Ashdown graduate and is married to her high school sweetheart, Jason Ritter. Together they have 3 children; Blake, Olivia, and Reagan, all of whom attend our schools. She has worked in this district for 19 years, with her experiences including being a second-grade teacher, a physical education teacher and presently, a kindergarten teacher. Additionally, she is co-sponsor for the AJHS cheerleaders and has served in this position for the past 3 years. According to AE Principal Teresa Wake, "We appreciate Mrs. Ritter’s passion for her students. She is caring, knowledgeable, and a hard worker. She communicates well with the parents, community, and our staff.”
Ms. Blankenship graduated from Ashdown High School in 1991. She started working as a paraprofessional in August of 2002 while working her way through college. She graduated from Texas A&M in Texarkana in May of 2015. Ms. Blankenship stated that she thoroughly enjoys teaching for the Ashdown School District. She cherishes being an Ashdown Alumni and feels it is a privilege to work and have her daughter, Gracyn, attend the same district that she graduated from.
Mrs. Shamsie has been a teacher in the Ashdown School District working at AJHS since 2006. She has taught 6th and 8th-grade science during this time. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Biology in 2005 from Texas A&M at Texarkana and her Master's degree in Educational Diagnostician in 2018. She and her husband, Curtis Shamsie, have two kids Colton and Annabeth Shamsie who attend school in the Ashdown School District.
Mrs. Simmons has been selected by her peers as this year’s Teacher of the Year at Ashdown High School. Jennifer holds a B.A. from the University of Arkansas Medical Science. And is a Licensed Medical Technologist. She has taught 5 years in the Ashdown School District. Prior to teaching, she worked in Medical Laboratories and hospitals for 18 years. Jennifer is presently teaching Biology and has an ASCP license. She is a certified Advanced Placement teacher in which she teachers Advanced Biology. Mrs. Simmons is the high school Quiz Bowl Coach and has provided challenging experiences for many of our brightest students. Mrs. Simmons is 9th grade Class Sponsor and has been the Co- Prom Coordinator for the past three years. AHS Principal Kay York Wortham said, "Mrs. Simmons is always thinking of students. She challenges kids and is always trying new things that will improve our school. She is on the school’s leadership team and spends countless time working beyond the school day to make sure labs and learning are ready for her students. Having a Medical Technologists on our campus positions our high school toward more opportunities for our students working toward medical certifications. Mrs. Simmons, attendance and character along with her strong desire for all students to learn to their highest potential deems her extremely worthy of this honor.” Mrs. Simmons is married to Shawn Simmons, an Ashdown graduate and his two children who graduated from AHS with honors. Student comments when asked about her…..She is always kind… never raises her voice. Listens to us always. Talks and explains things thoroughly. She never gets red in the face and gets mad at us. Very patient and kind. “I like science because of her”.