RANDOLPH, NJ- Randolph High School Teacher of the Year is Ashley Kanya. Ms. Kanya has been the Option II Coordinator at RHS since September of 2015. With the program, she has designed and implemented the high school’s senior internship program curriculum, served as a collaborator to create the first career and technical education pathway, and has steadily grown the number of Option II student participants over the past 5 years.

She is constantly going above and beyond to provide leadership opportunities for RHS students. Since 2008, she has helped lead the district’s softball program instructing at all three levels: Freshman, JV, and currently Varsity. In her coaching experience she has dedicated herself to expanding the sport’s reach by hosting several softball tournaments and providing softball clinics to students K-8. Ms. Kanya is also the National Social Studies Honor Society Co-Advisor.

Through this organization, she has been able to provide students with service learning opportunities helping to provide resources for Stockings for Soldiers and No Child Hungry. She has also provided students with exceptional extracurricular opportunities such as visits to the 9/11 Museum and engagements with veterans of the Vietnam War. Ms. Kanya is a Tomorrow’s Teacher Instructor and teacher. She helps guide and successfully place students in the district. In the program she helps organize events for American Education Week, Read Across America, and college preparation. As if her extra involvement was not already commendable, Ms. Kanya is also the Class of 2021’s co-advisor. Through her role, she is instrumental in the planning of Junior Prom and senior events. She helps students organize a number of fundraising activities including the group’s biggest event: The Color Run.

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Ms. Kanya started her career as a social studies teacher in 2008. She was motivated to become a teacher because of the amazing experiences she had learning from one of her high school history teachers. “It was the year 2000, and I was sitting in my United States History class. My teacher, Mr. Seris, was writing furiously on the chalkboard notes about a major moment in U.S. History. I cannot remember exactly what we were taking notes on or any major information that I learned in the class that year, but the one thing I do remember was that he was excited about what he was teaching. He was passionate and most of all he cared. He was strict and firm, a very old school teaching style, but I loved every minute I spent in his class. I knew that year I wanted to become a history teacher and it was because of him.” After graduating from high school, Ms. Kanya pursued this passion by studying history at Quinnipiac University where she received both her Bachelor of Arts in History as well as her Master of Secondary Education. In her first classroom at Randolph, she specialized in Holocaust and Genocide Studies. She completed professional development in collaboration with the Jewish Foundation of the Righteous, Facing History’s Antisemitism, and other workshops pertaining to holocaust education.

Although Ms. Kanya loved teaching history in the classroom, she saw a greater purpose for what she could help students achieve by stepping into a new teaching role. “History was and will always be my passion. However, I have come to see that my job as an Option II coordinator helps prepare students for life. Through this program, my students learn to seek out internships and jobs with my help and assistance. They learn persistence and how to communicate with professionals. They recognize how these roadblocks, which there are sometimes many, are there to help them learn. This gives them the conviction to see how bad they really want to pursue something. They have been given the gift of time and support to pursue things that are interesting to them. I see them in their work places where they are showing me all of the amazing things they are doing. These moments are a snapshot of the much bigger experience which is preparing for their future. I love being a part of it.”

She is truly a remarkable educator with a passion for the students she serves. Her love and devotion for teaching is admirable. “Every day I walk into Randolph High School, I thank my lucky stars that I am able to do what I do. It may be stressful at times, but our students make everything worthwhile. Teaching is one of the toughest jobs, but the kid who once said that this was what she was meant to do for the rest of her life was right. I found my perfect fit in this profession and my home here at Randolph High School."