Ashley Cowsert - Why I Believe Memphis Academy
I grew up many of my years in a small town called Hollister, Missouri. My involvement in various sports and activities began at a young age and my passion for sports grew as I began playing competitively on school teams in junior high. I experienced great physical education classes and influential coaches throughout all my years both in junior high and high school which strongly influenced my decision to pursue a degree in Physical Education.
Once I attained my Physical Education degree from College of the Ozarks, I made the move to Memphis, Tennessee to take on a nine-month discipleship training program called Emerging Leaders through Downline Ministries. I took my love for sports and my background in education and applied to Memphis Athletic Ministries as the homework help teacher and a basketball coach. As the homework help teacher I didn’t feel I was much of a help as I recognized many of the students were behind in their grade level work. I hated seeing them struggle and being told to just “work on their sight words” from their teachers.
My frustration led me to enroll in a program called Memphis Teacher Residency. It is here I learned and discovered the true atrocities of the injustice taking place in the education system, not just within the city of Memphis, but across the country, particularly for students of color and students growing up in poverty. I set out to learn the best practices to help close the achievement gap and injustices taking place against these amazing students.
While I spent a few years in the classroom, my passion for athletics led back to the gym. I realized as the push to close the gap, many other crucial parts of development and education were being swept under the rug as not as important – Physical Education being one of them. So, I set out to provide great Physical Education programs to students in Memphis. It’s not a time to just roll out the ball, but to discover through play and experience.
I chose to continue this goal to provide an amazing P.E. program at Believe Memphis Academy because they believe every student can and will become the leaders of the next generation. The team at Believe have done diligent work to provide a structure with “boundaries that facilitate the highest amount of learning with the least amount of distractions.” I work best in structure. I noticed this was an area in which Believe Memphis does well.
I also witnessed a respect among staff and between students and teachers during my walk through and interviews. Later I would find this directly comes from their mission to “respect students by giving them hard work…because they are worthy of their potential.” I want to be a part of students experience success which is a great motivation.
Not only do I desire to be a part of students experiencing success, but I myself want to experience that same success. I want to be “urgently committed to growing myself first so that I can effectively grow my scholars.” This is a place in which an overdose of success is truly attainable.
So, while I was born a Hoosier and bred in Missouri, Memphis has changed me. I am excited and encouraged to continue to be a part of the “students and teachers (in Memphis) who can courageously and deliberately change the world.”