Third grade is a time of enthusiasm and tremendous academic growth as scholars transition from learning school expectations and foundations (hello ABC’s) to learning for the joy of knowledge. At Dr. Joseph F. Pollack Academic Center for Excellence (PACE Academy), a tuition-free K-8 elementary school in Southfield, Michigan, we are so lucky to have Mrs. Ashley Anderson-Smith (Mrs. Smith to her students!), leading our life-long learners through third grade.
Please tell us about your background and how you came to be at PACE Academy.
I graduated from Lawrence Technological University with a Bachelor's in Humanities and a minor in Psychology. I obtained an educational degree from Western Governors University. I started working at PACE Academy as a math interventionist in 2017. I switched from being a math interventionist to a third-grade teacher here at PACE starting in 2018.
What do you love most about your role at PACE Academy? What is the most challenging?
I love working with scholars in an environment where they are able to explore the possibilities of learning. One of the biggest challenges is seeing scholars that have learning gaps struggling with their academics. As a classroom teacher, I want to capture those learning gaps within my scholars in order for them to be successful in their academics. I use our intervention day, W.I.G (Our Wildly Important Goals) Wednesday to focus on standards that scholars are missing and/or struggling with.
For example on W.I.G Wednesday, scholars are broken up into small groups based on the content area they are struggling with, whether it's math or ELA. While the groups work on their common core standards, I pull a small group and work with them one on one.
Tell us about an activity you’re involved in at PACE Academy.
Currently I participate in After-School Tutoring and I am part of the Book Fair Committee.
For after-school tutoring, I tutor third-grade scholars in math and we focus on specific common core standards. We are currently working on addition & subtraction within 1000 and multiplication & division within 100.
The Book Fair is usually run twice a year, once in the winter and again in the spring. We always have parent volunteers help to get families more involved with the school. The scholars get excited about being able to buy more books and trinkets. We also have a Book Fair Wishlist for scholars to jot down any books and trinkets for them to take home to show their parents. The Book Fair helps scholars get more excited about reading!
Can you give us an example of social emotional learning (SEL) in the classroom?
I have a scholar in my classroom, TR, who showed leadership by offering to help another scholar who was struggling with a class assignment.
In your opinion, what makes a great leader? How do you teach leadership?
A great leader is someone who is willing to lead with positive influence but also willing to follow. I teach leadership through our Leader in Me program but also through real-life experiences within the classroom.
We want to instill leadership qualities in our scholars and every morning from 8-8:30 am we work on them. We are currently working on Habit #4 (of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People created by Stephen Covey): Think Win-Win. With this habit, I am teaching the scholars how they can have a positive outcome in a situation between a friend, fellow classmate, or even someone at home. We talk about our EBA, which is our Emotional Bank Account, and how words can be powerful. If you're speaking positive thoughts to someone, you are depositing that positive energy into their EBA. When you say something negative you are withdrawing that positive energy from the other person's EBA.
When you’re not at school, what do you do for fun?
I am married with a three-year-old daughter. I enjoyed spending time with them doing fun family activities such as going on mini-road trips or trying a new restaurant.
What do you LOVE about PACE Academy- what sets it apart from other schools?
What I love most about PACE Academy is that it feels like an enormous family between staff and scholars. I love that as a school we can focus on the academics but also have fun at the same time. Recently my scholars did a fantastic job on their NWEA assessments and we had a celebration for the entire class. We ate pizza, watched a movie, listened to music, and danced to celebrate all of the hard work that they'd put in.
Learn more about our third-grade teacher, Mrs. Smith, and all of our great teachers and administrators at our close-knit and engaged tuition-free K-8 elementary school by calling us at (248) 569-1060 and enroll today!
About PACE Academy
Dr. Joseph F. Pollack Academic Center for Excellence (PACE Academy) is a tuition-free public charter school serving kindergarten through eighth graders in Southfield, Michigan. At PACE Academy, we empower our scholars to realize their fullest potential through meaningful educational opportunities. We partner with our families and community in preparing our scholars to become dynamic leaders in the 21st century by celebrating the importance of collaboration and accountability in all we do. Join our growing school, enroll today!