Name: Ashley Norris
Department: Human Development and Family Science
Affiliated Academic Program(s): Birth-Kindergarten Education
What are your favorite course(s) you teach?
My favorite course to teach is the Birth-Kindergarten Internship Seminar and supervising Birth-Kindergarten Interns. I am so lucky to get to meet the students when they enter the program as one of their first BK Instructors and I also advise all our on-campus students. Internship supervision and seminar are my absolute favorite courses because I can see how far they have grown in their practice and be a part of their experience as they transition into professional careers.
Current research projects?
Early literacy has been passion of mine since I was a graduate student and beginning teacher. I am working with two community organizations that are focused on early literacy. As the faculty advisor for the Early Childhood Student Organization, my student and I are working with the Literacy Coalition and volunteering at Community Crossroads. Once a month, we take a variety of children’s literature out to the facility and read with the children after dinner. We also try to extend on the book with a fun, age appropriate activity.
I also work with the School Readiness Committee. Our primary focus is to engage our community partners in supporting early literacy efforts. You would be amazed at all the wonderful programs that interact with children and their families right here in Pitt County. By organizing our efforts around a shared mission, we can impact so many children.
Tell us about your work with the Community School.
My work with the ECU Community school has primarily focused on curriculum and professional development for teachers. As a curriculum committee, we review and make recommendations that impact instruction. Our mission and focus of our work has been to capture the growth and development of the whole child.
The teachers that are working at the ECU Community school are experienced and knowledgeable experts in their field. They come from other schools where they have been viewed as teacher leaders. Planning professional development for professionals with their level of experience is extremely important. ECU faculty from multiple departments have been collaborating on professional development for teachers that is individualized and encourages them to continue to develop their leadership.
I’ve been working really closely with the ECU Community School’s Kindergarten teacher and her work with the North Carolina Demonstration Teacher Program in the Office of Early Learning. Demo Teachers model and advocate for best teaching practices across the state and I am so lucky to be able to collaborate with her on curriculum, instruction, and assessment strategies. We are working with community and school partners to increase awareness of research-based practices that are impactful on young children’s learning and development.
Tell us about the children’s books you have written.
About two years ago, my oldest daughter inspired me to write my first children’s book, Queenie Wahine: Little Surfer Girl. She had really wanted to learn to surf but was scared to try because she didn’t want to get hurt. Being an early childhood educator, I naturally started to search for a book that she could relate to and I couldn’t find any that were relatable. So, I wrote one myself. What started as a fun idea has now grown to a series that includes our second book, Little Millie Ford and Her New Skateboard. The mission of our books is to showcase girls who are brave, not perfect. The stories are relatable to the type challenges that young children face and incorporate action adventure sports.
Outside of work what are your favorite hobbies?
I’ve grown up here in eastern North Carolina and I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t around the water or enjoying the beautiful natural resources that you can find in our state (hiking, surfing, skiing). I love to travel and typically the types of places I visit are ones that also allow me to be active and outdoors. About three years ago, I started running. I have found so much enjoyment in this new hobby and completed my first half marathon last year. I’m so proud of the training and hard work that I put into that race and I’ve been contemplating what type of challenge I would want to take on next.