JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – With students leading the district on the basketball court and in test scores, this very young Jackson Public Schools (JPS) coach and teacher is sharing how she does it.
You could say competition is what drives Northwest middle School 7th grade math teacher Ashli Sutton and her students. With a mother who also teaches 7th grade math, but at Siwell Middle School, she says she is supportive and competitive.
In her first year of teaching, she showed her mom up. Sutton’s students ranked number one in the district on state assessments, and seventh in the state.
“Once you motivate them and they know that you’re in their corner, that’s really all they need. Once you build that relationship with the kids, I think that’s really the key,” Sutton said.
She uses that same philosophy on the court, which has produced this year an undefeated girls basketball team. “I tell them don’t let anyone work harder than you. Life is just like a competition. So if you want something and they want it, it’s about who wants it the most,” Sutton said.
Northwest Middle School Principal Kevin Culver says Sutton’s background as a JPS graduate helps with her ability to reach students, “Not only do they see her as a coach, they see her as a teacher, and some of them even look to her as a parent figure.”
Probably the advantage Coach Sutton has with her students is that she only recently completed school herself. The basketball and book balance is still fresh for the Jim Hill High School and Tougaloo College alumnae.
Now in her second year of teaching, Sutton is pushing her students to top themselves.
“They know it’s student-athlete, and the student comes before the athlete part.”
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