STREATOR — Ashley Alsvig was drawn to Woodland’s small class sizes and close-knit community 10 years ago when she started teaching there just out of college.
On April 26, she accepted the 2019 Teacher of Excellence Award from the Woodland Education Foundation after years of being instrumental to the school’s first-grade classes.
“First-grade is so special to me because it’s when children learn to read,” Alsvig said. “When they put meaning to text and that light bulb goes off, it’s just magical to see. Their growth from the beginning of the year to the end of the year is astronomical.”
Alsvig grew up in Princeton, the daughter of Carl and Rita Pacunas. She credits her small-town upbringing with attracting her to place her roots in another.
“I love the small class sizes here; that’s really what drew me here,” Alsvig said. “There’s more freedom, and it helps me create and maintain relationships with students and parents.”
Alsvig said she has always worked well with children, and she knew she wanted to become a teacher from a young age.
“I’ve always had a knack for working with kids and I thoroughly enjoy my job,” Alsvig said. “These kids want to learn, and they’re so enthusiastic and willing to please.”
She credits her success to the structure she provides students within a curriculum that changes from year to year.
As what is expected changes, she has been able to keep with her tradition of a structured environment with the kids.
The biggest change at Woodland this year has been the implementation of e-learning days rather than snow days in order to combat days lost to the deep freeze and snow that plagued the area this past winter.
“I was so caught off guard when they announced the award but I’m very humbled,” Alsvig said. “So many teachers deserve to be recognized, but I’m honored they thought of me.”