Homegrown in Aspen View: Ashley Romaniuk

Ashley Romaniuk

I will be honest: I didn’t think I would EVER come back to my hometown to teach. It’s not that I didn’t have a good school experience, but like many, I just wanted to get out and see the world, and I thought that there was so much more out there than my little small town, Smoky Lake. And it wasn’t until I got out into the world that I truly realized how good I had it growing up.  There is no place like “small town” home and rural education.  

I spent my entire school career at H.A. Kostash school in Smoky Lake, graduating in 2000. I have fond memories of intramurals, sports (go Eagles), Christmas and Spring concerts and all those teachers that really cared about students. I remember listening to the interesting stories of my social and science teachers, making the material we were learning relevant. I remember the fun dress-up days, class trivia competitions, school dances, and days when we would get together as a whole school for an event like track or Winter Olympics. I remember the sound of model rockets blasting off, the excitement I would get discussing the Oilers and hockey with my teachers, and the joy of seeing a teacher’s newborn because she missed us and decided to come back for a visit. I remember end-of-the-year ice cream treats from bus drivers, the countless field trips, and the smell of reheated chicken McNuggets because one of my favorite teachers, Mr. Wolanski, lived in “the city” and would bring us a treat every month. Sometimes I wondered why he would brave the countless years of winter roads to teach in Aspen View, but now I understand. All of the things that made my school experience amazing required extra work, effort and planning, but teachers truly wanted to do special things for us; they really thought the world of us. A rural education provides a sense of human connection, community, and caring that lasts a lifetime.

So, I find myself back where I planted my roots and learned to grow, although somewhat indirectly. I also was able to teach at two other Aspen View schools, Grassland and Vilna, and both schools and communities made me feel welcome and I will never forget some of those connections with staff and students. Now, I am a proud teacher at H.A.Kostash in Smoky Lake. My three boys, Bo, Bret, and Rhoads, are walking through these halls as I once did. I am teaching with teachers that taught and inspired me all of those years ago, and I have the privilege of working with students whose families I have a deep history and connection with while also welcoming new families to our incredible school and community. My husband, Chris, also attended school in Aspen View, in Vilna, and is now working for the maintenance department. Like many of the Aspen View staff before us, we are active in our community with sports and other organizations. Our kids are well cared for by everyone as hockey arenas, grocery stores and community events are extensions of the school. The proverbial “It takes a village to raise a child” definitely exists in Aspen View and I am grateful and proud to be a part of it.

Aspen View Public SchoolsAshley Romaniuk
H.A. Kostash School, Smoky Lake

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