Ashley Raven

Name: Ashley Raven

Hometown: I'm from all over, but I consider my hometown to be Charleston, South Carolina!

Position: Teacher in the Rainbow Room

Educational Background: I got my Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education focusing on Severe Disabilities from Boston University. After teaching for a few years I got my Master of Education degree in Early Childhood Education from Lesley University. (Editor's Note: Ashley is also fluent in American Sign Language!)

Years at the NECP: This is my 5th year at NECP, but I did my student teaching at NECP in the Rainbow Room when I was an undergrad!

What do you love most about working with the children at the NECP? The children at NECP are such a wonderful reminder of all that is good in this world. They are innocent and see the best in each other. They find joy in all situations and never miss an opportunity to laugh. Children express both positive and negative emotion without reservation and feel no guilt about expressing that emotion. I love that the kids at NECP truly understand that our differences are something to be celebrated instead of something to be feared.

What's a typical day for a Teacher at the NECP? People have said it before, but there is NO typical day for a teacher at NECP. In fact, I would say a typical day in the Rainbow Room is one where we start on schedule and quickly fall off schedule because of teachable moments, bathroom accidents, extended dance parties, or an unexpected special activity. Regardless of what happens on a given day, I'm always able to look back and find one positive moment from that day.

What do you feel makes the NECP unique? I think the staff of NECP make it unique. I always say that I'm biased, but I truly believe that we have the best staff and school in the entire world. The staff is not only incredibly qualified and skilled, but we care about our students as if they were our own children. We don't care just about the students on our own caseload, but the students in the whole school. The entire staff works very collaboratively and genuinely wants to help each other out.

What are your hobbies and other interests? I have a problem with over-committing which means I have a TON of hobbies. I love to run and am running my second Boston Marathon to raise money for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. I teach kickboxing once a week. I love music - I sing in an a cappella group (the 508s), and am also currently in a band, called Modesty Shorts, that's doing a fundraiser on April 8th to raise money for Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Finally, I am OBSESSED with cooking. I cook every single day and pretty much only watch Food Network at home.

What did you want to be when you grew up? This is super dorky, but I moved to Concord, MA right before I started 4th grade. The first person I met from my grade happened to be nonverbal and have autism. I went home that day and told my mom: "I want to have a kid with a disability!" My mom was a little taken aback but reframed it for me and said, "Maybe you want to be a special education teacher when you grow up." My mind has been made up since that day.

What's something that's on your bucket list? My wife and I love to travel. In the last couple of years we've gone to Israel, Canada, Italy, France, Ireland, and Hawaii. I would love to see basically the entire world, but the next two places on my list are Greece and Africa.