North Pole is well-known for being home to Santa and Mrs. Claus who, with the help of their elves, bring tremendous joy to children.

That’s exactly what Ashley Savage does every day at North Pole High School. The previous BP Teachers of Excellence honoree delivers joy in the form of knowledge, focusing on high-level mathematics.

Savage teaches advanced classes in calculus, finance and geometry. While the subject matter may be complex, she says she makes sure her students are successful by building trust and rapport. She says understanding students helps bring down the anxiety in the classroom.

“Patience is the biggest thing that these kids need, and just to try to put yourself in their shoes,” Savage said.

She says she looks forward to the challenges that each day brings as a high school math teacher, but teaching wasn’t always in the cards.

Savage went to nursing school and was close to graduating when she realized she wanted a different career.

“I was a tutor at the university and I really enjoyed what I did, just helping kids feel like they could do it, you know, even at the college level,” Savage said.

Already in love with mathematics and problem solving, she decided to commit to becoming a math teacher.

“Math is my super strong subject and that’s like the number one class that everybody hates,” Savage said. “So I was like, you know what, I’m going to make it the number one class that everybody likes.”

Upon graduation from Kentucky Christian University, Savage’s sense of adventure directed her to a teaching job in Akiachak. It was there, she says, she immersed herself in the village’s culture.

“I just really kind of learned to appreciate what I had, definitely while teaching out there, and it gave me a different perspective on life and about what other people are going through,” Savage said.

After a year and a half, Savage moved to North Pole in 2017. She was honored by BP the following year, making a big impact on her students’ lives in a short amount of time.

Savage helps her students tackle tough math problems, but in doing so she says she wants to create a better understanding of how to deal with issues that could happen outside of school.

“I think that is becoming an issue with some kids that I've seen, is that they put the blame on everybody else,” she said. “When something goes wrong, it’s ‘woe is me’ forever. I just want these kids to know that when something wrong happens, that's okay and you need to learn from it and grow from it."

She has high expectations for her students but with patience and understanding, Ashley Savage continues to shine as an outstanding educator in Alaska.

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