Hi, my name is Ashley James. I was born and raised in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. I’m a cheerleading coach for the Cleveland Heights Tigers Muny League. Growing up I participated in many cheer/dance competitions. Cheer/Dance has always been one of my most favorite hobbies. I enjoy teaching young girls the art of dance and cheer because it helps to build team player and leadership skills, physical endurance, coordination, and most of all spread positivity. In a course I feel most comfortable taking intellectual risk when I am allowed to ask questions without judgement . I think it is important to remain open minded when listening to others opinions and thoughts. You may not understand their point of view or agree, but you should always respect differences . How boring would a course be if we all thought the same? Bringing different ideas to the table creates a true environment of learning, support, and building off one another. I became a teacher because I wanted to make a change in this world by helping to educate as many students as I could. The first five years are most critical to learning in which lead me into early childhood education. I want to help give children a strong foundation and make learning interesting in order to encourage life long learners. What matters most to me in education is creating positive school cultures and equal educational opportunities for disadvantaged students . Growing up in Cleveland Heights I experienced a world of diversity. This has made me more worldly and understanding of different cultures. I’m currently reading a text titled “Getting it Right for Young Children from Diverse Backgrounds” by Linda Espinosa (2010). This book discusses cultural diversity in the classroom and its effects on academic performance. Studies show that school cultures have a direct impact on student performance. For me , being able to serve as a representation for the African American culture is critical because its especially important for black students and other minorities to be able to see someone who looks like them and relate to teachers who may have a better understanding of shared cultures. Dr. Shutkin, what advice would you give a student looking to obtain a Ph.D and becoming a college professor in Education?