Dayton ISD puts spotlight on three grads who are now educators

One of the basic missions of every school in America is to graduate students that are ready to go out into the world and make a difference.  Every year, Dayton ISD does just that.  Dayton ISD produces young men and women who are ready to make their mark on this world as they either continue their education in a college setting or they step into the working world.

Joni Thrift (Espinoza), Roxie Asbill (Ethridge) and Jennifer Little (Land) all three graduated from Dayton ISD.  Each went to college and worked to become educators and leaders in their fields.  Dayton ISD is extremely proud of the leaders that these educators have become and very excited to see what all of these leaders will bring to Dayton ISD to help all students be successful.

“I am extremely proud of all three of these young ladies! It has been a pleasure watching all of them grow throughout the years. I had them as students and athletes when they were in Jr. High. After graduating from college, they started their teaching careers in Dayton ISD. Now I get to work with these amazing educators in a completely different role- as an instructional leaders and administrators for our district,” said Dayton ISD Superintendent Dr. Jessica Johnson. “They bring a wealth of knowledge, years of experience, and a passion for learning. There is a statement that we say around Dayton ISD – ‘Once a Bronco, always a Bronco’! These three ladies are great examples of that statement. They have grown up in this community and now, all three are giving back through their talents and their love of children. I could not be more proud of these three.”

The questions were presented to each educator and their responses are shown.

What is your new role with Dayton ISD?

Little: I will be one of the Assistant Principals at Richter Elementary for the 2021-2022 school year.

Asbill: I will be serving as the district’s PreK-12 English Language Arts Coordinator beginning July 1st.

Thrift: I will be serving as the district’s PreK-12 Math Coordinator starting this 2021-2022 school year.

Talk about your teaching experience.

Little: I have been in education for 11 years – all of my experience in Dayton ISD.  I have taught kindergarten, third grade and fourth grade. I have served as the math/science instructional coach at Richter Elementary for the past three years.

Asbill: My teaching experience ranges from special education and ESL/Bilingual classrooms to gifted and talented classrooms.  I have taught various grade levels and subjects. Nine of my 15 years in education have been as a classroom teacher and six years have been as an instructional coach.  

Thrift: This will be my 19th year in education specific to mathematics. My nine years in the classroom began teaching high school Algebra I & Algebra II, and then Middle School Eighth Grade Math Models, On Level and Algebra I. The second half of my education experience began  in Humble ISD as an Elementary Math Instructional Coach, and then as an Elementary and Secondary Math Specialist.

Talk about how your teaching experience will help you in your new role.

Little: Being in the classroom for many years and teaching different grade levels, I have gained experience working with students of all ages. I have been able to build a rapport with these students and their parents over the years, so I feel like this will be beneficial in my new role as an AP. I have also had the opportunity to build relationships with the teachers on my campus through my role as instructional coach. I will continue to build and strengthen those relationships as assistant principal.

Asbill: The number one aspect of my teaching experience that will help me in my new role is the involvement I have had with diverse learners.  Having taught gifted and talented students will help me enrich our district’s gifted and talented program.  My bilingual and ESL classroom experience allows for a natural working relationship with the bilingual and ESL department as we work to grow language arts instruction in both general education classrooms and bilingual classrooms.  Additionally, my special education teaching experience will help me differentiate instructional practices for students with unique learning needs.

Thrift: My experience with math education at the Elementary, Middle, and High School levels has given me the big picture view of grade school mathematics as a whole and will help me with solidifying vertical alignment and supporting a more smooth transition of grade levels, especially from elementary to middle and middle to high. Being a classroom teacher for nearly a decade put a lasting impression on me of just how hard we, teachers work; how our hearts are in the right place, and how we do everything we can to help our students feel safe, happy and successful. That makes this role of supporting teachers as we continue to bring the creativity and wonderment back into our craft, a worthwhile and rewarding experience.

What are you most looking forward to in your new role?

Little: As a teacher, I’ve seen and experienced the benefits of having someone passionate about their job in administration.  While it is going to be tough leaving the instructional side, as assistant principal, I am looking forward to helping students reach their educational goals, supporting and learning from teachers throughout the building, and ensuring that the amazing work continues at Richter Elementary.

Asbill: As a new district ELAR Curriculum Coordinator, the number one component I am looking forward to is team building and collaboration with the district’s instructional coaches.  Every instructional coach brings unique strengths, experiences and knowledge to the table.  By working as a team across the campuses, we can make each other stronger to provide powerful instructional support for K-5 classroom teachers across the district.

Thrift: As a math coordinator, I’m most looking forward to collaborating with our instructional coaches and teachers to continue moving our mathematics instruction in the right direction along the continuum of stale and rigid to fun and flexible; for our teachers and students to get excited about mathematics and look forward to seeing how our inquiry and discovery unfolds in math class each day.

How does being from Dayton affect the way you go about your job?

Little: Being from Dayton definitely has its perks. I have had the pleasure of working with many of the educators who taught me growing up. I have had the privilege of teaching the children of my peers. Having these relationships within my community pushes me to work to the best of my ability each and every day.  I am looking forward to this transition and giving back to the community I hold so close to my heart.

Asbill: Primarily, being from Dayton means I have a vested interest in my job. Dayton ISD provided me with an education that prepared me for college and beyond.  I want to pay that forward to current students.  Additionally, my husband and I are raising our own three children in Dayton ISD.  I want all children enrolled in the district to have the quality experience I want for my personal children. Our neighbors, friends and family members are all involved some way or another with the district.  I want to give each of them the very best I can by supporting quality instructional practices from the district level. 

Thrift: Seeing all the familiar faces from my childhood education makes me feel nostalgic. We all have at least one educator in our lives that stands out having left a positive impression on us. I’m lucky enough to have had several. It’s comforting and energizing to be able to work alongside many of them. I love Dayton, though I’ve worked outside of Dayton, I never left. It has been my permanent home. I’m excited to be a part of our education system and looking forward to seeing all the great changes in our future.

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