COBB COUNTY, Ga. — This week is national Teacher Appreciation Week and a metro Atlanta teacher is being recognized on a national level.
Summer Aschenbach, from Norton Park Elementary School in Smyrna, is a top four finalist for ‘Live! With Kelly and Ryan’’s top teacher competition.
When it comes to defining heroes, teachers rank at the top of the list, especially during this past year. They’ve had to step up like never before.
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But Aschenbach said she’s had to step up her whole life and that experience is what makes her want to be the best teacher possible.
“It’s just a very humbling feeling, just a very rewarding feeling, like some of that hurt has made it a little worth it,” Aschenbach said.
Aschenbach was selected from thousands of entries and voted into the top four by viewers.
She said she’s stunned she’s in the running for Live’s top teacher because she says she’s just doing what she does every day.
“I really care for my students. I relate to them on a personal level because of the things I’ve been hurt by,” Aschenbach said.
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Aschenbach had a difficult childhood, her parents not able to care for her and her five siblings. At 6 years old she was placed in the foster care system.
“Those are your molding years. That’s when they say a kid grows the most and a lot of that was damaged for me,” Aschenbach said.
But in the 6th grade, at 11 years old, Aschenbach was adopted. Her adoptive parents helped her heal and become what she is today.
“My adoptive family has been wonderful. I wouldn’t have graduated from college or even high school if it wasn’t for them,” Aschenbach said.
But the reality of her past is still with her today.
At the age of just 27, she recently adopted her two biological nieces, ages 4 and 5 years old, who were growing up in the same toxic environment she grew up in.
So now, along with teaching her students, she’s teaching her daughters that life may be hard. But that’s OK, as long as you keep trying.
“If I help them get past the hurt, pain whatever they’re going through to show them that, ‘Hey, we all go through that. Hey, it’s OK we all got to push.’ And at their age that’s hard to see. I’m 27 and I’m still struggling but hey, I’m getting there,” Aschenbach said.
Aschenbach is going to be featured Thursday morning on ‘Live! With Kelly and Ryan’ at 9 a.m. on Channel 2. Tomorrow, Kelly and Ryan will announce the winner. The winner will receive $20,000 in prizes.
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