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NC3 has some impressive Master Instructors in our ranks and this Instructor Spotlight series aims to highlight the incredibly talented individuals who work with us. We’ll be featuring a new interview in our monthly newsletters, here on our website, and on our social media pages each month.
NC3 Master Instructor | M. Ed. Program Director for Digital Technologies
Ashley Likes, M. Ed., serves as the Program Director for Digital Technologies at WSU Tech, where she is also a Master Instructor for App Development with Swift.
Check out our Q&A session below to learn more about Ashley, her background, how she originally got involved with NC3, being an NC3 Master Instructor, and more!
NC3’s Swift Program Manager, Jeramiah Pauly, sat down with Ashley to talk all about her work as an NC3 Master Instructor.
Welcome, Ashley! I am thrilled to be here with you today and am looking forward to delving into the meaningful and empowering initiatives you lead at WSU Tech, NC3, and beyond. Thank you for joining the conversation! Describe your personal journey that led you to becoming Program Director for Digital Technologies at WSU Tech. Could you share what subjects you teach and the length of your teaching experience?
My mom was a reading teacher in K-12 and some of my best memories are “helping” her at the school, listening to her students read. I didn’t realize that was something I wanted to do myself though until college when I took a very difficult course with Dr. Nicole Laster. As a senior in college, my main goal was just to fit in. When I met Dr. Laster, she was unapologetically herself and I admired her- I still do! My senior year at K-State is when I realized I wanted to be in education. I had two amazing examples of what kind of educator I wanted to be. It took some time to find my place, but it was a goal I set for myself many years ago. I currently teach entry level computer programming and cloud classes at WSU Tech.
Recently, you were selected as a featured speaker at the Ad Astra Technology Summit alongside Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. That must have been an inspiring experience! Given your extensive professional background, how have these professional experiences outside of the classroom shaped the way you conduct your classes? Are there specific lessons from your career that you incorporate into your teaching methods?
I’ve been with the college for nearly 10 years, but my current position required me to make the jump from Student Affairs to Academics. I had no computer programming experience coming into this position so I spent a lot of time learning about Cloud and computer programming while creating curriculum for my students. I am constantly finding myself in rooms that I do not feel qualified to be in. I was recently asked to speak at the Ad Astra Tech Summit in Wichita, KS. and was completely terrified. At the summit, I had a great conversation with a very successful entrepreneur who said “I don’t know if I’m qualified to be here”. That was the moment I realized we’re all just humans doing our best. “Fake it till you make it” might be the standard, but I have found being authentic and humble has helped me create a quality program and develop supportive industry relationships. This mindset translates to the classroom too- I want my students to see that it’s ok to not know everything. Teaching my students how to research a problem, persevere through difficult projects, and work together as a team will take them further in their career than any technical skill I could teach them.
You have excelled rapidly in your professional career and that’s exactly the same story for you with NC3. In 2022, you attended App Development with Swift certification training before almost immediately launching your first certification courses. Could you tell us about the influential people who guided you on your path to joining the NC3 team? Specifically, could you share the story of how you discovered NC3 and who at WSU Tech provided you with the opportunity to become a Master Instructor?
I spent several months preparing curriculum before I taught my first computer programming class. I struggled to grasp the skills and was feeling quite defeated when the opportunity arose to take my first NC3 course in Swift. I signed up at the request of my Vice President, Jennifer Seymour with low expectations for myself. Those five days were eye opening-I had great instructors, Leslie Layman and Jeremy Skrdlant. My self confidence grew with each day of instruction. I knew if I felt this way, my students would love the curriculum and I worked with administration to incorporate Swift into my program. Leslie and Jeremy were so dynamic and passionate about Swift. Their passion really inspired me to be a Master Instructor. I shared my goal with my good friend, colleague, and NC3 Master Instructor, Jeremy King. But, I also told him I didn’t think I was smart enough to do something like this and that it was just a goal for a later time. His excitement and support really helped give me the confidence I needed to move forward. Thank God for good friends, right? I am incredibly thankful for the support of leadership, Dr. Jennifer Seymour, Vice President of General Education & Applied Technologies and Dr. Sheree Utash, President. They were just as excited as I was to have this opportunity!
It has been amazing seeing your development as an NC3 Master Instructor over the past year, traveling across the nation supporting your peers. None of it would have been possible without immense support behind you. Beyond your professional life at school and NC3, you are mother and wife to a beautiful family. What hobbies or activities do you enjoy in your free time? How do these interests influence your teaching style or approach?
Since I was a child, I always wanted to have a family and now I am blessed with the best. I have an amazing husband, Andrew and two great kids, Aiden (11) and Adelynn (8). Not to mention a giant dog, Milo, that loves to play. Andrew is pursuing his MBA and we are running kids to a million different activities. While this phase of our life is certainly crazy, every year is the best year when I’m with them. When I was pursuing my M.Ed. I remember sitting with a sick kid while I tried to edit a paper. My professor was kind enough to give me an extension after receiving a frenzied, late night email. WSU Tech’s student population is mainly non-traditional students. After being a non-traditional student myself, I try to emulate my professor and provide my students with flexibility as needed.
Your classroom skills are truly exceptional, but what I admire even more is the positivity you infuse into our team, especially during our travels. One of my fondest memories was sailing along Lake Michigan with fellow NC3 Train-the-Trainer attendees this past July. For instructors or schools contemplating joining the NC3 Master Instructor Team, what advice or insights would you offer based on your own experiences?
The NC3 Team has become a second family to me. My first TTT was in Wisconsin. We definitely worked hard to bring an amazing week of instruction to the participants, but we played hard too. Sailing on lake Michigan with the NC3 team after a long day of teaching was unforgettable. The ability to travel, meet new people, and have all of these new experiences alongside people I truly love is such a blessing. Additionally, being part of this network of Master Instructors has allowed me to observe others teach, acquire new techniques and skills, and bring them back to my own classroom. As a team, we are constantly supporting one another through course collaboration and troubleshooting. Thanks to these experiences and relationships, I’ve undoubtedly become a better instructor.
Thank you for sharing your story Ashley. Congratulations to you, WSU Tech and your students as they work towards great careers in app development with Swift and beyond! Looking back, what valuable advice would you give to your younger self or to other educators, especially concerning teaching or pursuing a career in education?
For so long I feared that I was not valuable. Then, when I started seeing my hard work pay off, I was afraid that I didn’t really deserve it. I shared this thought with my husband and said something to me that I will never forget. “Do you believe you’ve successfully fooled all of these intelligent individuals you work with every day? Or, is it more likely that you are genuinely excelling in your role?” So my advice is this: You are valuable and you’re allowed to be proud of your accomplishments.
For information on WSU Tech, please visit https://wsutech.edu/
For information on App Development with Swift certifications, please visit https://certiport.pearsonvue.com/Certifications/Apple/App-Dev-With-Swift/Overview
For information on NC3’s Train-the-Trainer program, please visit www.nc3.net/training