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Coworker Corner: Ashleigh Teasley
Ashleigh Teasley always had a passion for education. After exploring avenues to best use her passion, she ended up at Mercy Home, where she makes a huge difference in the lives of our kids every day.
While Ashleigh was still in college at the University of Wisconsin Madison, getting her degree in human development and family studies, she first heard about Mercy Home. A Chicago native, she knew that she wanted to return to the city and work in a residential care setting, and Mercy Home sounded like a great fit. She decided to keep us in her mind as an option for the future.
After graduating, Ashleigh participated in the City Year program, where she worked in a school.
“I thought I wanted to be a teacher,” she explained. “[So I thought], I can do this and still get a feel for teaching. I wanted to do residential care, but I was like, let me see what this teacher life is about.”
Though Ashleigh loved her time in City Year, she quickly realized that she didn’t want a career in teaching. It was also the step she needed to re-consider working in residential care.
“I realized that teaching is so much bigger than what I thought,” she said. “And so many of my students had concerns and issues and things that they needed from me as a teaching assistant outside the classroom. So that further pushed me towards residential care and to apply to Mercy Home.”
I realized that teaching is so much bigger than what I thought.
Ashleigh was initially hired as a youth care worker in Seton Home for our youngest girls. After two years in that position, she began to consider going to graduate school and wanted to explore her passion for education more. It seemed natural to move to the Education and Career department at Mercy Home to make a more direct impact on our kids’ education.
“That passion for education truly never left me,” she said. “This was the opportunity to still be able to support youth from a mental health standpoint, but still be able to do some of the education advising that I’ve always had a heart for. So it was the perfect merge of social work and education.”
As the senior coordinator of education resources, a position she’s held for three years, Ashleigh works with the young women in Couderc Home helping with their education and school placement needs.
“Because that home has high schoolers and college students, it’s a lot of academic advising,” she explained.
Ashleigh helps the girls with goal review, homework review, checking in on their grades, making sure they are enrolled in school, reviewing and addressing any behavioral issues they might be having, and helping them with social emotional learning skills they need to master to be successful in school. She also works with tutors and helps our girls prepare for life after high school.
“[We ask them], what do you want to do beyond high school, college?” she said. “What do you see yourself being? And [then we try] to help these older girls, both the high schoolers and college girls, create a plan academically from that.”
Working with our girls is a highlight of what Ashleigh does at Mercy Home, she explained.
“My favorite part [of my job] is probably just being able to have one on one time with the girls and just seeing them make gains,” she said. “Like when we sit down in our talks [or] check-ins, and they can see change in themselves, It’s pretty rewarding. … That’s one of my favorite times, just watching them being all of themselves.”
In addition to enjoying working with our girls, Ashleigh also enjoys working with her coworkers in the ECR department. Though she works most directly with the team at the Walsh Campus, the entire department has meetings once a month to check in, which she likes.
My favorite part of my job is probably just being able to have one on one time with the girls and just seeing them make gains.
“It’s really nice to have that immediate team, but then also know that we’re connected to this larger team at the West Loop [campus],” she said. “And we have support there, but we definitely have fun [too]. I feel supported and I feel like I do a lot of supporting on the team, so it’s just good that we mesh well.”
Ashleigh is currently attending graduate school to receive a master’s in social work. She is grateful to be at Mercy Home, where she can combine her passions for education and social work to make a difference.
“I think Mercy Home does an amazing job of looking at all aspects of the child or the young adult and making sure those needs are met,” she said. “I haven’t been to a place where I felt that [they] valued their education as much as [they] value mental health [like we do at Mercy Home]. … So working here just really helps me feel like all our residents are cared for long term.
It is that focus on more than just learning, but the total wellness of our kids, that Ashleigh particularly cares about.
“I care about [our kids’] home life, I care about [their] mental health,” she said. “I care about conflict resolution. And so being in an environment where that’s valued, I feel like I’m growing professionally as well.”