The common thread that links all of the Pushing Boundaries team together is resilience through adversity and prevailing leadership. Justin Ashley had it all. He was named Teacher of the Year in North Carolina, he was married to his beautiful wife, and to the outside world appeared to be living the American dream. But like the some educators across the nation, he was unbalanced with life. Teaching isn't like it use to be. Now there are 504's to keep up with, Common Core standards, second language learner standards, Next Generation Science Standards, Computer Science standards, parent conferences, parent communication tools, online grading with live links for parents, STEM, one-to-one computing, and paperwork stacked up to the ceiling. With all these expectations in education also comes a lack of funding and time to learn when being expected to implement it all. No wonder Justin's life began to spin out of control.
Listen as Justin share's his words of uncertainty, despair, and ultimately hope and resilience:
"It was the beginning of summer in 2015. An end to another school year and nearly the end for me.
I was coming off my tenure as the North Carolina Social Studies and History Teacher of the Year. My students were performing at a high level. I had reached the pinnacle of my career and one might think this would have brought me happiness, but I was the opposite of happy; I was depressed, anxious, and addicted to prescription drugs. On the verge of losing my marriage, with only 100 dollars in my bank account.
For seven years, I had done my best to push boundaries in teaching. And on that summer day, it landed me in rehab.
Through a lot of therapy, research, reading, and writing, I was fortunate enough to overcome my addiction, restore my marriage, and return to the classroom.
I learned something that saved my health, career, and marriage-if I want to prevail, I will have to push boundaries in every domain of my life and not just in my career. As a leader in education and in my family, I’m going to have to work hard in 1st period on Monday mornings and just as hard in the gym on Friday afternoons.
The true boundary pushers don’t just challenge the status-quo in their profession. Pushing boundaries is their lifestyle. It’s their essence.
In my speaking, trainings, and writing, I’m trying to share my story and equip teachers with practical strategies for finding joy and peace in every genre of their life. The teacher burnout crisis is real. We have far too many losing their passion and quitting within their first five years. Far too many who are living paycheck to paycheck. Far too many who suffer from depression and anxiety and it doesn’t have to be this way. There is a better path. In The Balanced Teacher Path, I outline what a healthy lifestyle and career CAN look like. I am pushing boundaries for my colleagues so that they can be the best for their students . . . because our students are counting on us!
I’m very thankful to be a part of this team of superheroes in education, called Pushing Boundaries Educational Consultants and I’m excited for what’s to come!"
All of us at PBEC not only can relate to Justin and implement his message in our own lives through his book The Balanced Teacher Path, but more profoundly, take his message of balancing life as an educator to serve the educators that we meet. We are honored to work in the greatest profession on earth and it is our mission and vision to protect, inspire, and serve in such a way that we break the glass ceiling together as a PLN. Thanks to Justin we can protect those who serve relentlessly and tirelessly in the greatest profession on earth. Take some time to reflect yourself and those around you and ask, "Am I balanced? Am I the best version of me that I can possibly be to myself, my family and my profession?"
Check out Justin Ashley's website to learn more about him, his inspiring blogs, or to contact him regarding future speaking engagements.