Engineering teacher Ashley Freeman is the proud recipient of the $15K O’Toole Teacher Leadership Grant. At Malden High, she teaches a pre-engineering class using amatrols, and a creative design and engineering class in the Makerspace. Before engineering, she taught physics, and had to switch up everything to teach engineering.

Freeman says that she “encourages [her] students to ask questions, and not to think of the world as a certain set of rules to follow”. By receiving this grant, it will allow Freeman to expand the endless possibilities in her classroom, from the advanced technology and machinery to the tools for those hands-on experiences.

The MHS Makerspace. Photo by Meghan Yip (Blue and Gold archives 2015-2016).

 Freeman said “ [she] was excited about supplying [her] students with the right materials fit for the students’ ideas”. Something that really stands out about Freeman, is that she tries her best to keep her classes student-centered because “ [she] gets a whole range of students, they have all their different strengths and interests. She “looks for what students are interested in, rather than forcing her students to take notes on subjects they don't want to learn”. 

Freeman mentioned that “Professor, Brian Gravel, from Tufts University, along with another researcher Eli Tucker-Raymond nominated [her] for this award”. Freeman was one of 12 hardworking educators who also received the $15K grant.

Freeman and her excellency were not the only things benefitting from this grant. The money she received from the grant are being used to train teachers around the district, and the Malden Public Schools. She “helps teach educators around Malden about student centered learning. The district is already planning on creating a Makerspace at Linden and Beebe. Special classes at the high school. like auto shop, need many supplies, so money is going Freeman mentioned that “ [she] received a lot of help and support from the two researchers she mentioned, Brian Gravel and Eli Tucker-Raymond”. She also received a lot of help from Jenkins House Principal Shereen Escovitz, and Principal Ted Lombardi. It’s interesting that she didn’t step into the Makerspace until two years ago, because of the positive results in such a short period of time of her being involved in it.

Engineering teacher Ashley Freeman. Photo by Jesaias Benitez.

Mayor Gary Christenson stated that this reward proves how “[Freeman] is going above and beyond in reaching [her] students”. When Mayor Christenson and Superintendent John Oteri heard about the grant, Christenson says they were both “beaming with pride”. Christenson  also thinks that Freeman is truly making difference in the students in Malden. Oteri thinks “it’s an honor for [Freeman] and Malden, [Freeman] has a real connection with students, and [she has] the strong ability to find any opportunity for students to learn. And it’s important that [she will] utilize the grant to expand as many learning opportunities for our students”.


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