Humans of Caledonia: Ashley Gilbert

Ashley’s experience of growth after two of Caledonia’s teachers leave their last full impact.

Ashley+enjoying+iced+coffee.+

Ashley enjoying iced coffee.

“For the most part, my high school experience has been pretty good. I decided my education really mattered to me. Throughout middle school I really wasn’t the best student, I’d skip school if I didn’t want to go. I’d sleep through my classes. I was more than capable of completing the workload that was given to me, but I just didn’t do it. 

My education took two turns. One in Mr. Bronkema’s 8th grade class and then another in Mr. Oster’s algebra 2 classes my sophomore and junior year. When I walked into my Mr. Bronkema’s class I did not take it seriously at all. I had that ignorant pre-teen attitude like ‘I don’t need to know this at all, it doesn’t matter, it’s just algebra. I can sleep through it’ I was very wrong and I completely missed the concept of his lessons. I don’t know how he did it or how he continues to do it, but there is something about the way that he ran his classroom and how you can tell he genuinely cares about his students that made me want to come to school. I started paying attention in class and I absolutely fell in love with learning. 

The same credit is also due to Mr. Oster, they both encouraged me to develop the skills of critical and outward thinking and truly understanding what’s being laid in front of me. It reminds me of this quote by Albert Einstein that goes something along the lines of ‘Education isn’t learning facts but it’s training the mind to think.’ They made their classes unlike the average math class. They showed what was really going on and what the answers really meant and how to apply it to real life. It was things like that that sparked this feeling in me that showed me learning was fun.

 If I graduate high school remembering one thing it would be something Mr. Oster said in the beginning of my junior year. He told our class that he didn’t want to hear us say “Mr. Oster, I don’t get it.” He wanted us to accept that we didn’t get it yet. And that extra word “yet” was so important just because it is saying that just because I don’t understand it now doesn’t mean I won’t ever get it. So I went into Mr. Bronkema’s class with a horrible work ethic, getting low 60’s and 70’s but I left in the 90’s range. I went into Mr. Oster’s class with low 90’s which turned into high 90’s and 100’s with a better outlook on life. Now I’m a 15 year old beginning AP Stats and with that I will definitely remember these two teachers for the rest of my life, I will owe so much of my success to them because they never gave up on me, they always encouraged me, pushed me, and they saw potential in me to be even greater, and that was something I didn’t even see in myself until I took their classes.”