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NHA Teacher Named a Finalist for Regional Accolade Honoring Charter School Educators

NHA Communications Team  |  April 07, 2020
A National Heritage Academies (NHA) teacher was recently named a finalist in MAPSAs annual MI Charter School Awards. Ashley Benson, first-grade teacher at Achieve Charter Academy, is now in the running to be recognized as the 2020 Michigan Charter School Teacher of the Year.
“I am thrilled for Ashley to have been chosen as a finalist for MAPSA Teacher of the Year!” said Jennifer Conley, principal at Achieve Charter Academy. “Ashley is one of the most compassionate and caring teachers who provides a first-grade classroom that is focused on a combination of fun, firmness, and focus. She meets the needs of all her individual learners and is a huge asset to our school community.”

Every year, MAPSA’s Charter School Awards provide a platform to highlight outstanding educators in Michigan's charter schools. There are nearly 300 charter schools across Michigan and hundreds of nominations were received for this year’s awards.
“We are so excited to have a member of our team receive this recognition! Ashley demonstrates sincere care for every student as she connects one-on-one with their interests and needs,” said Cathy Henkenberns, director of school quality at NHA. “She is dedicated to her own learning and strives to improve her practice. As a result, her students benefit from her growth mindset and dedication to her work.”
To be considered for this recognition, MAPSA receives anonymous nominations from parents, teachers, school leaders, and community members to recognize those who are going above and beyond.
“Michigan’s charter schools have some of the most innovative, creative and talented educators in the country, and we’ve seen that come to light even more in the past few weeks,” said Dan Quisenberry, MAPSA president. “These finalists represent the best of the best, and they’re continuing to work every day to engage, inspire, and educate their students. We’re so proud to be able to honor them and shine a spotlight on their accomplishments.”
Two additional individuals from NHA were also recognized as semifinalists in the awards. Aletha VanValkenburg, second-grade teacher at Chandler Woods Charter Academy, was named a 2020 MI Charter School Teacher of the Year award semifinalist and Shelli Wildfong, principal at Metro Charter Academy, was named a 2020 MI Charter School Administrator of the Year award semifinalist.
The top five Teacher of the Year and Admin of the Year finalists each receive a $500 cash prize and will earn a platform to share their best practices throughout the year.
About National Heritage Academies:
National Heritage Academies is a network of 89 tuition-free, public charter schools across nine states, serving more than 60,000 students in kindergarten through eighth-grade. For more information, visit