The Paideia School

Ashley Oracz '03

Legend has it that if you catch the eraser Paul B. throws out on the first day of school, you are destined to become a teacher. In the last 15 years, few people have answered the call. We tracked one down, though! Ashley Oracz (English) '03 caught the eraser in 2001 and is currently a 4th grade teacher in New Orleans.

When did you know that you wanted to become a teacher?

I can remember playing teacher in the courtyard at my elementary school in third grade. I used to like pretending to grade papers, which ironically now, is one of my least favorite teacher duties.

Tell us a little about why you love to teach and a little about the school where you teach now.

Teaching is amazing for those "ah-ha" moments your students have. That moment when the light turns on for them and they grasp something they have been really struggling with. Nothing compares to the joy I feel when one of my students shows growth and I know I was able to help them get there.

I currently teach fourth grade at Samuel J. Green Elementary School in New Orleans, LA. It is a charter school with open enrollment and it is part of the Firstline Network of schools. Being open enrollment means we serve children from all over the city and are still a free public school option. Many of my students start the year off performing below grade level and it is my and my 4th grade team's job to get them up to grade level so they can go on to college, careers, and successful lives. We are very college focused even in elementary school and each of our classrooms are themed after a college. My classroom is Tulane, after the college I attended.

What are some of your favorite back to school memories at Paideia?

Back to school is the best time! I remember always being excited for a new start and getting to know my new teachers. At Paideia you always knew you were starting the year off with amazing teachers who loved what they do and were going to work hard to help you learn. I hope my students feel the same way when they walk into my room each year.