Don’t judge a book by its cover

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) – A career in education is tough, but it has its rewards.

A Sioux Falls woman says teaching is one of the most important jobs in the world.

There’s an old saying, if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. And for Julie Ashworth…

“I believe that every child and every young adult deserves the best teacher possible,” said Julie Ashworth, associate professor of education at Augustana.

He enters the word every time he enters the classroom.

“Teaching is not a profession. This is not work. Teaching is a way of life,” Ashworth said.

Ashworth has been a teacher for 48 years.

During this time, she taught elementary school, special education, the deaf and blind, and college students.

“I always focus on them as potential members of society and inspire them to be lifelong learners from their youth through their senior college years,” Ashworth said.

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“You’re always learning from Julie, every time you’re around her you soak up the great vibes she puts off. That is, even if I am his colleague, I will be his student,” said Jackson.

Nick Jackson graduated from Augusta in 2008. He trained under Ashworth and now works with him.

“Because of all the relationships he develops with his students — lifelong — you know that he cares about you, that he loves you and that he’ll do anything for you. So how come you’re not in his class, if you have that connection, if you have that relationship?” said Nick Jackson, instructor and colleague.

One of the biggest parts of Ashworth’s teaching style is building relationships with students. He brings that message home with Chili the spider.

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“It represents a lot of my teaching, my position and my beliefs and a lot of my life philosophy,” Ashworth said.

Ashworth has taught about inclusion, bias and stereotypes with her arachnid friend for nearly 30 years. According to him, Chili was not just a spider.

“He’s been a great teaching partner for me because he teaches kids to get out of their comfort zone,” Ashworth said.

Chile was a living lesson in why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

“He showed us that Chili is just like everyone else and that he loves to be loved. People would hold Chili and Chili would relax in their hands and never hurt,” said Kinzie Gullickson, an education specialist.

Gullickson met Chili when she was a sophomore in Ashworth’s class.

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“His class was the first time I walked into an education department at Augie, and you just walk in and you feel his energy, which is something I’ve never seen before,” Gullickson said.

Although Ashworth is semi-retired and Chili is no more, her students are the ones who will continue to shape the future of our community and education, she says.

“I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of the lives of hundreds of college-level kids, and now young adults, and will continue to be a part of their lives because I get to mentor and watch them become teachers and watch them be in their classrooms. – says Ashworth.

According to Ashworth, her work in education for the deaf and blind helped her and Chili bond. According to Ashworth, Chili was hard of hearing and blind.

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