North Star News

Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

Niles North High School | Skokie, IL

North Star News

Ashley Amelianovich, English Teacher

Photo credited to Ashley Amelianovich
Photo credited to Ashley Amelianovich

What’s your name and position? Ashley Amelianovich, English teacher.

How long have you been working at Niles North? I student taught in 2009, and I started teaching in the Fall 2010.

What’s your favorite thing about teaching English? Especially this year, I feel like we’ve had a resurgence and just been able to talk about literature and have an interesting conversation about what we think an author is doing with what the book means. And so that’s been really fun for me, but I’m always trying to feel, read, write, and think. And for me, skills-wise, it always comes back to writing.

Why did you become a teacher? Well, I was an English major for undergrad and worked in public relations for a few years. It was interesting and creative, and it felt soul-sucking. And I was volunteering on the side at a women’s shelter and I was just kind of going and helping the kids there with their homework and I was volunteering at a library and all the tutors were high school students. I was 24-23 years old, and then the student tutors were asking me to help them with their homework after we tutored the little kids. And then I think those two experiences really solidified that that would make me feel like I was able to do much more meaningful work, that wasn’t like a soul-sucking corporate job. And so that’s why I switched. I went back to grad school when I was 25.

What was it like being from a small town? Yeah, it was so different. I had 70 kids in my graduating class. And essentially, we went [to school] together K through 12. My locker was between the same two people from 6th through 12th grade. I knew every single teacher, and also my mom was a teacher at my high school. So that was its own like any other experience, which was awesome. All of the teachers were our family friends, and so I knew them all going into it. I knew the lay of the land. I knew every single person in high school, so it was just a very different experience in a good and bad [way]. Everyone cares about you, and everyone’s invested in you, but also, everyone knows all your business. But yeah, it was fun. It’s very different than here. I felt for a while very pigeonholed in people’s perception of me and that’s good and bad, too. I wasn’t ever trying to break a rule because I babysat for my principal, and I wouldn’t ever want him to have a bad opinion of me if I broke a rule or whatever.

What’s your favorite book? My favorite book of all time? I mean, curricularly, it’s probably To Kill a Mockingbird or The Great Gatsby. It’s hard for me to come up with like a read for fun that I like. It’s always the last great one that I read. So the last great one that I read, I just finished Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt. It was so charming and good. The other book that I love, it’s a children’s book, Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. I always like that because of how there’s that acceptance and love from the mom. Every time I read to my kids I get all choked up. 

What’s your favorite quote? It’s from the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. “No man is a failure who has friends.” 

If you could have lunch with a book character that you teach, who? Trying to go back to freshman year [books], I love the angle of the Odyssey from Penelope’s perspective. And there’s that Margaret Atwood book, The Penelopiad that is Margaret Atwood’s take the perspective of the book with Penelope as a central character. And so that will be a fun one too, have a coffee or have a meal with Penelope and just to kind of talk to her and see what she’s really thinking. I also love Scout’s voice in To Kill a Mockingbird so much. Her voice is just so uniquely her own. 

What is your fashion inspiration? For the longest time I wore a shirt, a cardigan, and a scarf. That was my early 2000 teen vibe. I cut my wardrobe in like half ,and that was probably five years ago. And I really have been trying to follow more fashion Instagram accounts. It’s funny, I’m in my 40s now and so I’m kind of figuring out what my style is, which is kind of a funny thing to do at this age. But then I will dorkily wear a Great Gatsby sweatshirt because I really embrace my inner English learner. I will say I do view it as like a creative outlet. Because I used to always have like little crafty things or some kind of a creative thing that I would do. And with kids it’s harder to find time for that. So then I feel like getting dressed. I try to come up with something that’s like fun and different. And then at home in the afternoon I literally put on the same clothes every day. The same  three shirts and same black sweatpants.

What advice would you give your younger self? It doesn’t matter as much as you think it does. Do not take every AP class. Your worth is not tied to your grades. I get choked up thinking about teenager Ashley because I really viewed  my whole identity to get straight A’s. And no one made me feel that way except for myself. My parents were like “You do you. Work hard. We love you.” And it was all pressure I put on myself. But yeah, that’s what I say. Doesn’t matter as much as you think it does. And taking a break is healthy…[I felt like] I needed to get every answer right. And so I think being able to tell myself that my entire worth isn’t based on my grades would be very helpful. 

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Penelope Roewe
Penelope Roewe, Managing Editor & Opinion Editor
Penelope is a junior and this is her third year on NSN, serving as Managing Editor and the Opinions and Photos editor. She loves to express her opinions through writing. In her free time, she enjoys listening to music, watching Gilmore Girls, and reading books.

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