Aspiring teacher places first in SkillsUSA competition

August 15, 2010|By HEATHER LOWERY
  • Ashley Willingham, a recent graduate of Washington County Technical High School, placed first at National SkillsUSA in the preschool teaching assistant category in late June.
Submitted photo,

WILLIAMSPORT - Ashley Willingham, 18, has the skills to one day be an elementary school teacher - and has the medals to prove it.

The Williamsport teen and recent graduate of Washington County Technical High School placed first in the preschool teaching assistant category of the National Skills-USA competition in Kansas City, Mo., in late June.

Willingham said SkillsUSA is a national organization in which students compete in all different technical areas.

SkillsUSA is a national nonprofit organization, according to its website, that serves high school and college students, along with teachers, who are preparing for technical and skilled-service careers.

Willingham has plans to attend Alderson-Broaddus College in West Virginia this fall.

"I plan on majoring in elementary education with a concentration in special education and a minor in coaching," Willingham said.

She said she hopes to come back to the area and coach one day, maybe basketball.

Willingham competed in the SkillsUSA competition at the state level, won, and then went on to place first at the national level.


The preschool teaching assistant competition occurred over two days. A test was taken and a lesson plan was created Wednesday, June 23, and the presentation was conducted Thursday, June 24.

"I had to take a written knowledge test, on child development and practices in that field," Willingham explained. "I was given the area of science to plan a lesson. I had two hours to develop it, and I had to give a presentation of three to four minutes of my lesson plan and then I answered questions from the judges."

The competition is the same at the state level, according to Willingham, the only difference being an interactive story reading.

Willingham said she was nervous and a little bit intimidated during the competition.

"In the competition I didn't really get to socialize with many of my competitors, so I couldn't really get a feel of how everybody taught. It's kind of intimidating going around the room and seeing what everyone else is preparing," she said.

Willingham said didn't think she was going to win.

"It was very exciting, and was completely unexpected. I got a lot of support from the rest of my classmates and that felt good," she said.

For her first-place win, Willingham received a $50 Lowe's gift card and three books from Lakeshore, a publisher of learning books for young children.

"Hopefully, I will be able to use it (the gift card) for something for college that I need for my dorm," Willingham said.

Willingham's parents, Tavis Willingham and Stephanie Bard, were not in attendance at the competition, but Willingham said they were watching over the live Internet feed.

"They were very proud and very excited for me," she said.

On Aug. 3, Elizabeth Morgan, superintendent of Washington County Public Schools, presented Willingham with a Golden Apple Award for her achievements at the Skills-USA competition.

Willingham received a golden-colored pin, in the shape of an apple.

"It is one of the ways that we recognize those who have done something for the school system or within the school system," Morgan said.

Morgan also wished her well with her planned career.

"When Ashley is ready to teach," Morgan said. "I hope she'll put Washington County at the top of her list."

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