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Ashley Sorenson

Teacher, Howard High School of Technology

“If you are considering involvement in the education sector, I would unequivocally say, “Go for it!”

Ashley Sorenson

Education has played a dramatic and enduring role in my life. I was educated entirely outside of Delaware, but my entrance into Delaware was solely due to education and the opportunities available here. In 2010, I came to Delaware for the first time as a Teach For America corps member. I was fortunate to be placed at Howard High School of Technology, and the reason I continue to teach in Delaware is because of the favorable circumstances and incredible support Delaware has for its education community.

Delaware’s small size is one of its greatest advantages because your impact on students, families, schools, and communities is magnified. However, we must also realize that the needs of students, families, schools and communities are also magnified. Now more than ever, Delaware has the chance to transform opportunities available to students, mitigating difficulties and enabling students to receive a first class education in the First State.

Students at Howard – many of whom are first-generation college students – need much more in the way of college knowledge in order to be successfully admitted to college and matriculated through college. To address this challenge in my school, I worked with community and school partners to create a college access program. This past spring, we launched a five-week pilot for 25 sophomores. In the program, students visited the University of Delaware, learned about types and features of colleges, collaboratively created a path to get to college, action planned around personal strengths and weaknesses, and invested other stakeholders in their education. When planning and executing this pilot program, I worked with a variety of community partners – including Teach For America, Upward Bound at the University of Delaware, eNymbus, Delaware Futures, College Board and others in order to capitalize on their knowledge and the work they have done in the past. These community members volunteered their expertise and assistance during the pilot program, and are continuing to help as I work this summer to design more intensive programs for next school year.

As a part of the college access program and as a science teacher and team leader, I am fortunate to work with 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students at Howard High School of Technology. Our student population is diverse both socioeconomically and racially. About 70% of students are low income and qualify for free and reduced lunch. Students are drawn from all over New Castle County, and 75% are African American/Black, 11% are Hispanic, and another 13% are white. Many of them will be the first in their families to attend college, or even graduate high school. The diversity of experiences at our school provides our students with a vast understanding of others to draw on and support them as they make their transition from high school to post-secondary education, work, or the military.

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