This week, let’s get to know Ashley Zehel, who without a doubt, has one of the most interesting and diverse “four people to coffee” of the year. And then, there’s that Butterfinger thing.
Place of birth:
my adopted feline sons, Onyx and Opie
Why did you choose A-State?
The faculty seemed so friendly and some old friends of my family live in Searcy. It’s easier to move somewhere where you already have connections.
Four people I’d take to coffee...
The Mad Hatter, Amy Schumer, Miguel de Unamuno, and Little Sebastian
Who was your favorite teacher (and why)?
My favorite teacher was Dr. Parizad Dejbord who was my Spanish professor during my undergraduate career at the University of Akron. She encouraged me a lot as I was gaining confidence in my Spanish-speaking abilities and is still an encouragement today. She set a good example as a female professor as well. She was relatable but also very challenging. I had to study a ton, but I grew a lot in her class.
My hobby is...
interior decorating, painting, cooking, yoga
My passion is...
teaching Spanish. It really is my dream job.
What makes for a good student?
A good student comes to class prepared and ready to practice and apply what they have learned. They also keep a positive attitude and are willing to take risks and make mistakes.
The best advice I ever received was...
to peel the banana from the bottom instead of from the stem at the top. It has changed my life.
Your philosophy on education in seven words:
Students take ownership of learning when challenged.
If you could teach another field, which one and why?
I would still teach in humanities, but I would love to teach about other cultures, art, film, or literature. I love the arts and there is so much you can learn from a piece of art someone else has created. Also, there’s a philosophy class that is taught right across the hall from my office that has some really interesting topics, I’d be interested in learning more and teaching that.
My pro sports team is...
the Pittsburgh Steelers.
My pet peeve is...
perfection and consistency. Get dirty and change it up! Give things some character.
What makes a good professor?
A good professor let’s their students do most of the talking and synthesizing during class and facilitates that learning. A good professor challenges the students during learning as well, making them grow as intellectuals and future professionals. It’s also someone who gets to know the students and adapts the teaching methods to their needs and interests.
What is the one thing you wish you could teach everyone about your field?
I wish I could teach everyone more about the practicality of learning another language. Like, if my students could be a fly on the wall in all of the places my being bilingual has come in handy… I have friends and family members that have started studying Spanish because they have witnessed how useful it has been in the real world. …and it’s also pretty B.A., or impressive, to whip out a second language skill.
What are you working on right now?
Right now, I’m working on perfecting the flipped classroom and the use of authentic materials in lessons. I’m also working on a few film projects outside of school.
Before you retire I want to...
take students on a trip abroad.
In college, I was known for...
always being the first to volunteer to give a presentation. Partly to get it out of the way and partly in hopes to convince my peers that Power points should consist of bullet points, not paragraphs that you read off of a slide to the class. It’s one of my pet peeves.
What music is playing in your car?
I enjoy silence and getting lost in my head, I’m always thinking or praying.
My favorite motion picture is...
Second Hand Lions, it’s funny yet deep and unpredictable. I really enjoyed Inception and Interstellar as well for their originality. I hate when I can predict the ending of a film.
The television series I must TiVo...
I love comedies that have a more advanced humor that you have to pay attention to like the Office, Parks and Recreation, Modern Family, The Goldbergs, and Community. I really enjoy the BBC’s Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch also for its unpredictability.
The last book I read for fun was...
a play “Un barco sin pescador” or in English, “A boat without a fisherman”. Before that, “1984”. I like to read about conspiracies, corruption, and mortality.
My favorite trip was...
every study abroad trip. (Spain, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica). There’s no better way to travel than to stay with a host family for an extended period and be immersed in the culture of the destination. Besides those experiences, I love Disneyland, Disneyworld, San Antonio, and traveling via cruise ship.
If I could travel anywhere it would be...
Thailand or Argentina. Thailand mostly for the food and to ride an elephant. Argentina to eat a steak, visit Buenos Aires, and visit the beaches.
What is the one thing I’ve learned I’d tell my college self...
enjoy playing adult while it lasts, because the real thing is a-comin’.
My favorite meal is...
Thai curry and that ridiculous Butterfinger cupcake that was voted the best in Jonesboro. That cupcake has ruined my life, I think about it every day.
A perfect day is...
one spent mostly outside in the sun or swimming at a pool with a good book.
What I like about Jonesboro is...
the nice people, the Butterfinger cupcake, the library, Craighead park, and this city’s similarities to fictional Pawnee, Indiana.
Cats or dogs?
I have cats, but love both. If I had a dog, I feel like I couldn’t give it all the attention it needs. I have a cat lifestyle at the moment.
E-book or hardback? Hardback.
In support of libraries, reading at the pool, and book conservation.
Beach or mountains?
Dinner or supper?
Dinner, although I do enjoy a good old-fashioned southern supper, I just don’t know how to cook southern myself.
I wish I could...
fly. It’s something I do often in my dreams and usually convince myself it’s real, until I wake up.
Only my friends know I...
am a child in an adult body. My best friend and I love to play on playgrounds and climb trees.
My favorite saying is...
“Don’t take yourself too seriously, nobody else does.”