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Meet Ashton Gildea, finalist for Arizona Athletics High School Teacher of the Year Award

Posted at 8:51 PM, Jan 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-04 07:06:17-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Ashton Gildea is an English teacher at Walden Grove High School. He has been selected as one of the nine finalists for the Arizona Athletics High School Teacher of the Year Award!

When he thinks about being named a finalist, he says he thinks about his colleagues at Walden Grove who were also nominated in previous years. He says, "I think about them and all the amazing things they do, all the extracurricular and the community based stuff, to even be compared to them and all the teachers who have won in the past I'm like “I don’t even know if I deserve this.”"

Gildea says he is often mistaken as a student when walking the halls of Walden Grove. Gildea says, "new teachers or subs don’t know that I'm a teacher, so I end up getting yelled at. I'm like no, no I'm supposed to be here.”
But it's that same reason he feels like he connects with his students.

Gildea has a unique approach when it comes to his teaching style. “I'm a big believer in all students have a certain kind of intelligence that we have to tap into," he says. That's why his classroom is set up as a collaborative effort.

But when he's not teaching, you can catch Mr. Gildea on the Tennis courts, where he coaches women's tennis. Gildea says, "coaching is form of teaching but there's a different aspect to it and I think my teaching makes me a better coach, so I can think about it that way too.”

While he may be busy, his number one focus always goes back to education. "Students tell me all the time that they like this class because I have high expectations of them, that way. I'm a strict teacher," Gildea says.