In recognition of her dedication to her students and commitment to advocating for equitable education, Ashley Lockwood has been named the 2023 Delaware State Teacher of the Year. Lockwood is a fifth grade teacher at Lulu Ross Elementary School in Milford, Delaware.
The Teacher of the Year’s journey as an educator began in 2013 when she started teaching special education. Her genuine care for her students and her desire to bridge the opportunity gap led her to take on various roles and initiatives within her district. In 2020, she established the Ethnic Minority Affairs Committee (EMAC). Her vision for EMAC was clear – it should comprise not only staff of color but also teachers who work with students of color. Lockwood’s advocacy extends beyond her district. She actively participates in the Delaware State Education Association’s EMAC and the Milford School District’s Equity Action Committee.
“We all have the responsibility to close the opportunity gap. The first step is to understand how our own biases and past experiences may show up in our classrooms. Even in our best attempts at inclusion, we must recognize implicit biases in schools do play a significant role in the outcomes of students of color,” Lockwood said. “Recognizing our own biases through professional development, committee involvement, or self-study proves we are committed to removing the barriers that have kept students of color from advancing academically, socially and emotionally.”
Ashley Lockwood’s impact extends beyond her classroom. Colleagues and administrators praise her compassionate leadership, high expectations for diverse learners, and her commitment to maintaining a rigorous and equitable curriculum. She also builds strong partnerships with families, ensuring open lines of communication and providing support whenever needed.
“Her personality is very calm, caring, and in every situation, she is always looking for the positive,” said LuLu Ross Principal Cynthia McKenzie. “Students often tell me that she listens and offers suggestions and never puts anybody down. She’s always encouraging students to do their best.”
As the 2023 Delaware State Teacher of the Year, Lockwood will have the opportunity to amplify her advocacy work and represent all teachers in the state. She will engage with various stakeholders, including community groups, business leaders, legislators and educational organizations, to shed light on the status of Delaware schools and promote educational equity. Her nomination for the National Teacher of the Year award further highlights her remarkable contributions to education.
Ashley Lockwood’s recognition as the State Teacher of the Year serves as an inspiration to educators across the nation. Through her tireless efforts, she reminds us that advocacy and empathy are vital components of teaching. By recognizing and addressing biases, working collaboratively, and prioritizing the needs of historically underserved students, we can take significant steps toward closing the opportunity gap and ensuring that every student receives the quality education they deserve.
In the words of Lockwood herself, “I strive to make students feel they are accepted and not an exception.” Her work embodies the transformative power of education and serves as a beacon of hope for a more inclusive and equitable future in schools nationwide.