Don’t judge a book by its cover

Sioux Falls, South Dakota (KELO) – A career in education is challenging but rewarding.

Teaching is one of the most important jobs in the world, says a Sioux Falls woman.

There’s an old saying that if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. For Julie Ashworth…

“I believe every child and every young person deserves the best teacher possible,” said Julie Ashworth, associate professor of education at Augustana.

She embodies this quote every time she walks into the classroom.

“Teaching is not a profession. It’s not a job. Teaching is a way of life,” Ashworth said.

Ashworth has been teaching for 48 years.

During that time, she taught elementary school, special education, deafblind education, and college students.

“I’ve always followed them up as potential contributing members of society and inspired them to be lifelong learners from a very young age through college as an adult,” Ashworth said.

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“You’re always learning from Julie, and as long as you’re around her, you’re soaking up those incredible vibes that she puts off. So I mean, even if I’m her colleague, I’m always As always, I will always be her student,” Jackson said.

Nick Jackson graduated from Augustana in 2008. He studied education with Ashworth and now works with her.

“Because of all these relationships she makes with her students — those relationships are lifelong — you know she cares about you, you know she loves you, you know she’ll do anything for you. And then how can you not be in her class Learning, if you have that connection, if you have that relationship?’ said coach and colleague Nick Jackson.

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One of the most important parts of Ashworth’s teaching style is building relationships with students. She took the message home with her little spider chili.

“She represents much of my teaching, my positions and my beliefs, and most of my philosophy of life,” Ashworth said.

For nearly 30 years, Ashworth has taught inclusion, prejudice, and stereotypes with her arachnid friends. She said Pepper was more than just a spider.

“She was just a great teaching partner for me because she taught kids how to get out of their comfort zone,” Ashworth said.

Pepper is a living lesson on why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

“She really showed us that Chili is like everyone else, kind of likes to be loved. People will hold Chili and Chili just relaxes in the hand and doesn’t do any harm,” said education major Kinzie Gullikson.

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Gullikson met Chili when she was in second grade in Ashworth’s class.

“Her classes were really my first exposure to Augie’s education department, and you walk in and you can feel her energy, which I’ve never experienced before,” Gullikson said.

Although Ashworth is semi-retired and Chili is no longer around, she says her students will continue to shape the future of our community and education.

“I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of college and continue to be a part of hundreds of children and now young people’s lives as I begin mentoring and watching them become teachers and be in their classrooms,” Ashworth said.

Ashworth said her work in deaf and blind education helped her connect with Chili. According to Ashworth, Chili is hard of hearing and nearly blind.

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