RI Educator of the Year Chooses Love

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Ashley Adamson, 2021 Rhode Island State Teacher of the Year and Grade 3 Teacher at Hathaway Elementary School in RI, shares more about her role and the impact the Choose Love Movement and Scarlett has had on her life. 

  1. What does it mean to you to be the RI State teacher of the year? What do you do in your role? 

This role is both an honor and a privilege. I have the privilege to represent all of the outstanding educators we have across the state of RI.  I get to collaborate and learn from other teachers, not just in RI, but across the United States.  I have a voice and am part of new initiatives and positive changes in education.

One part of my role consists of my platform which is social-emotional learning or SEL.  I have the chance to advocate for SEL, present on it, and bring SEL awareness to others across the state.  In addition to promoting my platform, I work with The RI Department of Education to develop educator recognition initiatives and support programs throughout the state.

2. Why do you like being an educator? 

I believe that the work of an educator is one of the most noble jobs you can have. As a teacher, I have the ability to change a child’s life and inspire their future endeavors.  I can think of no greater honor than the trust put in me to create a safe environment for students to learn and grow as individuals.  How lucky am I that I get the opportunity to interact with children on a daily basis and help them be the best versions of themselves, not just academically but emotionally.  I became a teacher because of my inspirational first grade teacher, Donna Carreiro.  She is my “why,” my inspiration to go into education.  But those sweet faces I have the honor of teaching?  They are why I continue to pour my heart into my job.  They inspire me every day. 

  1. How do you incorporate Choose Love in the classroom? 

Social-emotional learning is something I incorporate into my classroom on a daily basis. It is a topic I am very passionate about.  After hearing Scarlett speak a little while back, I immediately began implementing Choose Love in my classroom.  I am currently going through the “Brave New World” unit with my students.  After introducing my class to certain parts of the unit (i.e. star breathing, tapping, meditation chimes, etc.), I continue to go back to it and encourage them to use these tools (as we call them in our classroom) on their own.  One of the most powerful things I have found is asking students to share a time that they used one of the tools and how it helped them.  As Scarlett says, SEL is not something that is taught in isolation and then you “move on” to the next subject.  It needs to be woven into your day and incorporated as much as possible.  I am amazed at how well my students have responded to Choose Love.  From day one, they were invested and open to the tools, topics, and conversations.  I have found the lesson that introduces the term “anxiety” to be a particularly powerful one.  It was eye opening to see how many students could explain what it meant to be anxious and describe how they have felt.  This lesson provided them with a word for those emotions and the message that it was normal to feel this way because everyone feels it in one way or another. 

  1. How do you practice the Choose Love formula in your daily life?

From the very first time I heard Scarlett speak, I immediately began working hard on changing my mindset of “I have to” to “I get to.” My husband did the same.  That alone has been life changing.  I’m not perfect, of course.  Sometimes I have to stop and do some self-talk to change what I am thinking or am about to say.  But, you know what?  I am doing it and it feels good!  I am incredibly blessed to have things that I “get to do” and I try to remind myself of this every day. 

I also have a four-year-old son with whom I find myself practicing the choose love formula on a daily basis.  We engage in conversations about how he is feeling and why.  He knows that all different types of feelings are ok.  My son can become frustrated when something doesn’t come easy to him.  We have used brave breaths and star breathing in our house to help reset during these times. 

  1. Anything else you want to share?

Scarlett is nothing short of amazing. To have the ability to turn a tragedy into this incredibly powerful message of choosing love is just remarkable.  I believe as many people as possible need to hear Scarlett’s message, because she is changing people’s lives for the better.  I am so fortunate I had the ability to be impacted by Scarlett and for that I am eternally grateful.