For Ashley Johnson, teaching isn’t just about getting students through the curriculum. It’s a family a air. In her one-room schoolhouse, the small group of young, soon-to-be mothers learn how to work together as a team and support each other through two of life’s big milestones: high school graduation and the birth of their rst child.
She makes sure that no accomplishment goes uncelebrated— especially when her students defeat the odds and earn their high school diploma and go on to pursue their post-secondary studies.
“Graduation is one of my favorite events,” says Johnson, a science and math teacher at Annunciation Maternity Home. “Since we’re such a small group, we only graduate about
one girl a year, so we throw her a big party in the classroom with decorations and cake. Every graduate gets to be the valedictorian. It’s always touching to hear them talk about their journey and how much they appreciate us.”
Located in Georgetown, Texas, the residential facility can assist up to 26 young women during pregnancy and for up to two years after the birth of their babies. Students are provided with life skills classes, job assistance, family counseling and more. The goal is to prepare each and every young woman for success—in their family lives and in their careers.
At rst the road to success has a few bumps, Johnson says. Not only do they have to adjust to an entirely new living situation, they also have to make some really hard decisions, such as whether or not they should give their baby up for adoption.
“The rst couple of weeks are challenging because the girls need to adjust to a lot of rules and high expectations,” Johnson says. “It’s a di cult transition, but they get through it and leave the school all grown up and ready for a fresh start.”
As for high expectations, Johnson has a zero-tolerance policy
for failure. Although her students might not be aware of it,
she knows they are more than capable to solve complex math problems. When her students get stuck on an equation—or give up altogether—she will sit down with them for as long as it takes to pinpoint which step they’re missing in the process.
As in life, it’s all about the process—the baby steps along the way—that leads to the light at the end of the tunnel.
“In my class, failure isn’t an option,” Johnson says. “They can come back and start over, but they are not going to fail with me. These subjects can be hard, but once they get through it and realize they can solve these problems that seemed impossible, they become so much more con dent in their abilities. Part of the fun of teaching is being a part of their success.”