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Ashlee Pitts is a leadership and learning coach for Teach for America.


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An abstract painting, one of the entries in the annual Al Young Art Show.

Ashlee Pitts '15

Learning and Leadership Coach, Teach for America

Major in Political Science, Minor in Journalism

Ashlee Pitts never liked talking in class, but studying political science changed that. Now, she's a leadership coach for new teachers.

Ashlee Pitts is a leadership and learning coach for Teach for America.

How did you choose your major?

I took a lot of introductory courses when I first got to Knox. I knew that math and science weren’t fields I wanted to go into, but other than that, I thought: Let me just try things out and see what interests me. I think political science was one of the first things I signed up for. It was amazing. Lane Sunderland made me love political science, the way he put the things we were reading into context. It wasn’t just: Read this textbook, take this test. We were actually having conversations. I think the size of the classes were really important, too. I was able to go to Lane’s office and talk about the different things we were reading, and I liked getting to know the other people in class. That’s how I met a lot of my friends. After class, we’d go to the Gizmo and kept talking about what we were studying. I felt such a strong connection with these people.

How did your Knox experiences change you?

When I arrived at Knox, I wasn’t much of a talker, I didn’t like to contribute in the classroom. One of my biggest influences was John Haslem in the Center for Teaching and Learning. I took one of his writing courses, and he did not let you just sit there and be quiet. He instilled this idea in me that my voice is important, and it should be heard.  

How did you make the move from teaching to coaching teachers?

After my first year of teaching language arts for Teach for America, I became a content leader and spent a lot of time developing courses around teaching English and writing as well as teaching. I decided to enroll in a graduate program in public school leadership through Columbia University, and then this coaching opportunity came up. 

Right now, I work with about 20 teachers in three school districts. I go into their classrooms and help them with management, leadership, and building projects.  It’s something I discovered I really love—I like helping teachers tap into their specific strengths. Some are great at organization, others are great at execution. I believe every single person has the potential to be great at something. It’s just a matter of figuring out what it is.

Knox’s extraordinary faculty are more than experts in their fields; they’re gifted teachers. Gifts to the Knox Fund help the College recruit and retain faculty members who inspire students to discover their strengths and pursue their dreams. Support great undergraduate teaching with a gift to the Knox Fund now.

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Printed on Saturday, March 25, 2023