Principal Zach Rahn from Ashley Elementary School greets each child with a handshake at the start of the school day. On Fridays, the whole school gathers together in an anything-but-quiet assembly in the school gymnasium.
Teachers from each grade give shout-outs to children who have performed especially well that week and all the children cheer each other on. Music pumps through the speakers, kids organize themselves in lines, always tracking the speakers, and everyone holds their hands in up silent applause.
The school is fun. But also extremely organized. Kids walk on either the green or red lines that run down each hallway with their mouths closed and hands at their sides. Their shirts are tucked in and everyone wears brightly colored garments emblazoned with the school logo. That seems strict, but you hear giggles from the classrooms and interactive games. Spanish comes pouring out of some, English from others. Kids glance at me in a shy way, trying to figure out why I’m taking their picture, but I can tell they are always listening to their teachers.
Ashley is the first full iPad school in Denver, with each child having their own. It’s a public school, but feels very personal and unique. I only spent half a school day there, but I could tell that there is something different about it. The teachers all speak the same language and there is a specific “Ashley culture” that shines through in each classroom. The faculty is dedicated to making this the best, most diverse school possible and from an outsiders point of view, it seems they are accomplishing it.
I am no education expert – in fact, I know very little about Denver’s school systems. But I walked out of there thinking, “If I have kids, they are coming here.”
I’m so thrilled they asked me to photograph their school and I really hope these photos captures the true essence of Ashley!