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Susanne Ashby

Curriculum Specialist

a photo of susanne

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As the curriculum specialist on a multimedia team, I design and write the information found on CD-ROMs and create the instructional materials that go with the multimedia. My team is made up of a computer programmer, a graphic artist, a production assistant and me, the educator. We just recently added a writer to our group. We work as a team to develop the content and interactive activities found on the CD-ROM. After we plan out the entire CD-ROM's contents on storyboards, we then each work individually or sometimes in pairs to develop our assigned sections. I work with the writer to develop the information and the content. I also help with proofreading and editing. I design the educational activities and work with the graphic artist and the programmer in creating these. I also create the written materials that your teacher would use with you in class. Yes, some of that would be worksheets for homework, but some of that would be some interesting and fun activities for you to do, also! After the final product is ready, I then take it out to teachers and train them in how to use the materials in their classrooms. Doing this kind of work is really fun and creative.

As a kid growing up in the '60s, I read a ton of books every year. I preferred science fiction stories, mystery books, biographies and books about different times and far away places. My favorite children's book is A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle. During the summers I would devour mystery books like Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, the Power Boys and the Three Investigators. I remember being moved when reading biographies about Abraham Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, Amelia Earhart, Queen Elizabeth I, Helen Keller, Charles Lindbergh and Harriet Tubman, to name a few. I loved reading historical books that talked about Lewis and Clark, the Wild West, and the Appalachian Trail, the Renaissance and the Age of Exploration. I also loved to learn about space. I read books about astronomy. You know when I was growing up as a kid, we really did not know as much about space as we do now. I believe that if you learn how to read, you will open even more doorways of opportunity!

I remember when I was in sixth grade I used to tutor other students in reading. The look on the faces of these students when they were able to read a sentence and understand what it said. Their whole face would light up with a smile that stretched from one ear to the other! I knew then that I wanted to be a teacher. I know that must sound boring, but to me it was fun and rewarding. Before I firmly decided to major in education in college, I spent a lot of time volunteering in classrooms at different grade levels to make sure I really could be a good teacher. This experience helped me to decide in which grade levels I would be best to teach. I spent fourteen years in the classroom teaching grades kindergarten through eighth.

Teaching gave me the opportunity to use many of my skills and abilities. For example, I love music and playing guitar. In fact, I played in a rock band through high school and on into college. I used music often when I taught school. For instance, I wrote 4 mini-musicals that my students performed. One was about geology, another about stars, the third was about energy resources and the fourth was about the American Revolution. I also loved getting a couple of bands together and performing with them in the school's Talent Show. We would do old time rock and roll songs and bring the audience to their feet! I also enjoyed coaching when I was a teacher. I coached volleyball, softball and flag football. I really loved going out at noon recess with the students and getting a good flag football game going.

I do miss being with the students now that I am working in an office. I have been working here at NASA Ames Research Center for over two years now. Because the work is so creative, I enjoy this work as much as I did teaching. I prepared for this kind of work by earning a Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction and taking courses in multimedia development. I also spent many years creating exciting lessons and units that I used in my classroom. One thing that also prepared me for this work is my involvement with sports. Playing team sports teaches one to work together, to appreciate diversity and to work out differences in a positive way.

Music and sports were also major parts of my childhood. I grew up listening to music that varied from classical to country and Broadway to rock. I not only played music, but I also played a lot of sports all the way through school. My favorite sport was softball, but I also played basketball, volleyball, tennis, and ran the mile in track.

Nowadays I enjoy hiking, traveling, photography and writing songs, poetry and short stories. I love taking my dog out on a hike in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and snapping photos of the scenery. I love traveling, too. I've been to the Hawaiian Islands, New Zealand, Canada, Switzerland and Germany. Everywhere I go I take my camera and snap many rolls of film. A new hobby I have been experimenting with lately has been creating entertaining little videos for my friends and family.

I believe it is important to set goals. No matter how small the goal might be, it is important to set the goal and follow it through to success. I set goals every year from what kind of books I will read, to what new things I will learn and to what other skills will I improve. It is important to keep growing as a person and keep learning no matter how old you are! This is what keeps your life fresh, new and exciting!

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