Growing up, Ashley Malbroux didn’t see herself as a teacher at St. Rose Elementary, or anywhere else for that matter. These days, she can’t imagine herself anywhere else.
She was SRE’s Teacher of the Year for the 2020-21 school year, her passion for her job and bubbly personality endearing her to students and colleagues alike.
“I adore the kids,” said Malbroux, who teaches third grade ELA and social studies. “I feel like, and this sounds so cliché, but I love my kids, and when they walk in the door for the first time every year, we’re creating a family. I just love seeing them grow, hearing about their baseball games, their birthday parties, their weekend … building relationships with each of them.”
Malbroux majored in English literature and journalism at the college level, then went to law school with plans to become a lawyer. Along the way, she spent part of her summers volunteering at a day care center, and something about those days felt right to her.
“I kept telling myself, I’m gonna be a lawyer, but I adored working with kids,” Malbroux said. “I graduated law school and ultimately figured out that it wasn’t for me.”
She went to the St. Charles Parish School Board’s central office to inquire about working in the school system, and became a paraeducator at the West Bank’s Head Start. She was later encouraged to attend a job fair and examine what else was out there – it turned out she was a fit with St. Rose Elementary.
“10 years later, here we are,” she said.
She credited former St. Rose Principal Merlyna Valentine as a positive influence on her teaching beliefs, specifically on Valentine’s strong focus on relationship building and cultivating a family environment in the classroom.
“Any disagreement we have in the classroom, we’re gonna talk it out and fix it,” said Malbroux. “To me, the measure of being a good teacher, is your kids will not trust you if you don’t know you love them, if you don’t build that relationship with them. And that’s not a superficial thing. It is truly that you’re going to love them, through good and bad, and that they know it.
“That’s where it starts. Once they realize you’re on their side, they’re ready to do anything we need to do.”
“I was a complete bookworm growing up,” she said. “I got in trouble in school because I was reading a book under my desk instead of paying attention. So, it was really exciting when I got this job. We’re departmentalized, so you have a math and science teacher and you have an ELA and math teacher. When I was told, ‘You’ll be teaching ELA,’ that was a dream come true. I can talk books all day with my kids.”
Learning she had been chosen as Teacher of the Year made her emotional.
“This was the first year back from COVID, and they usually announce that during a faculty meeting. At that point, we were doing virtual over ZOOM, and I was home sick that day,” she said. “My administrator asked, I know you aren’t feeling well but can you hop on for 10 to 15 minutes, I think it’ll make you feel better. And when they announced it, I just started crying. I work with so many phenomenal people. To know they voted for me to represent us means so much.
“I love my third-grade team, love my people at St. Rose, I couldn’t imagine being any other place.”