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Activist of the Month: Ashley Guerra

At the League of Education Voters (LEV), we recognize all of the hard work that you do toward improving public education across Washington state. We are pleased to announce our Activist of the Month for July: Ashley Guerra. Read more about her experience leveraging technology to improve parental involvement in education.

The Guerra family at the June 6 State Board of Education forum. From left: From left to right, Ashley, her younger brother Julito, her mom Yelenys, and her dad Julio.

The Guerra family at the June 6 State Board of Education forum. From left: From left to right, Ashley, her younger brother Julito, her mom Yelenys, and her dad Julio.

Ashley Guerra just finished her first year of high school, so it might surprise you to hear that we chose her as our Activist of the Month for July. But it won’t surprise you for very long.

Ashley recently testified at the State Board of Education’s forum on the updated high school diploma for Washington. Her focus was parent engagement.

Her goal to increase parent engagement began as a school project at Kent-Meridian High School, which has the lowest graduation rate in Kent. Ashley and her peers decided to try to find a way to improve Kent-Meridian’s graduation rate.

After researching strategies that have been shown to improve the graduation rate, Ashley and her project group members decided to focus on parent engagement.

While the Kent School District already has a very successful program to engage parents called the Parent Academy for Student Achievement (PASA), Ashley found that many parents were unable to attend the 9-week class regularly because of their work schedules or transportation difficulties in attending the class.

As a solution, Ashley came up with the idea of building a mobile application with the entire PASA curriculum on it. Parents would be able to follow the curriculum at their own pace, and the app could be translated into whichever language is spoken at home. “When used to its full potential, the PASA curriculum can have a huge impact in empowering parents to become involved in their child’s education,” Ashley says.

The reception to her idea for a mobile app was so good that Ashley gave Kent-Meridian High School’s first-ever TED(-style) talk. Her idea also caught the attention of one of her teachers, who put Ashley in touch with LEV’s Community Organizer Joyce Yee.

The rest, as they say, is history. Ashley gave an excellent presentation, and Joyce describes her as a “visionary” individual with an unparalleled commitment to her cause. In fact, Joyce added, “Ashley insisted on testifying at the State Board’s forum despite having had her wisdom teeth removed just two days prior.”

What’s next for Ashley Guerra? Well, career-wise, Ashley plans to become a pediatrician. But, Ashley attributes her success as a student and advocate to her parents and strives to emulate them. “My parents sacrificed everything to ensure that I could succeed in life, and I want to pay it forward. Above all, I want to impact society and make a difference.”

You can rest assured that we will be seeing a lot more of Ashley in the future!

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