My name is Ashley Mattei, and I am an English Language, Literature, and Communication Arts Educator based in the Twin Cities. When I am not working with our state’s brilliant youth, you will find me walking my poodle Ollie or reading The New Yorker magazine in the sunshine.
I come to the classroom with professional experience as a marketing, advertising, and search engine optimization (SEO) strategist. It was through working on audience research tasks at companies like Nordstrom and Revlon that I found a love for listening to and learning about people, discovering their histories, values, and motivations so that I could craft messages they would find interesting and relevant. In these roles, the people I strategized advertising for continually challenged me to critique the methods I thought were “best” for sparking their interest, teaching them about products, or building their trust. They taught me that two pairs of eyes, each looking from different intersectional identities, will mentally and physically experience a different effect from the same images and texts. And, they convinced me that it is this effect, not the intent, of what we say that matters most. The effect can validate identities or marginalize them, can privilege some voices while oppressing others, can build communities or fracture them.
I became an English teacher because I want to join my students in becoming more critical, responsible, and conscious consumers and producers of language.
As a white educator, I believe it is my responsibility to recognize and acknowledge that I play a part in perpetuating or challenging the imperialist discourse within our schools, which privileged and rewarded me with academic success through the oppression and marginalization of Students of Color. I encourage my students not to drop their histories, cultures, ideas, and identities at the door but to bring them into our assignments and discussions. I understand that sometimes, new perspectives will make us uncomfortable or conflict with what we believe we know. However, I do not doubt that students can play an active and valuable role in these discussions, exercising their capacities to self-reflect and modify their opinions.
Our students are uniquely talented human beings. They deserve to be credited and treated as such.