December 19, 2023

Just a few years into her teaching career, Ashlie Crosson ’11, an English teacher at Mifflin County High School, began incorporating intentional independent reading into her classroom.

“At first, it was really difficult because it’s hard to find time within the curriculum to read ‘for fun’ and because I just didn’t have that many high-interest books for students to choose from,” Crosson said.

The professional development courses she took convinced her the payoff would be worth the effort, so Crosson began collecting and buying young adult books to build a diverse classroom library that includes books from Maus to The Hunger Games. She credited two booksellers — First Book Marketplace and her local bookstore, The Crooked Shelf — for the growth of her classroom library.

It was this effort, and Crosson’s “championing practices and resources that will lead her students to infinite possibilities of success,” that led to her being named Pennsylvania’s Teacher of the Year by Secretary of Education Khalid Mumin. Crosson is the third Susquehanna graduate to earn their state’s top honor in public education in as many years. In 2022, Carolyn Kuhr ’98 Kielma, a science teacher at Bristol Eastern High School, was named Connecticut’s Teacher of the Year and a top-five finalist for the National Teacher of the Year Award. In 2021, Taiisha Swinton-Buck ’08, principal of Baltimore’s Digital Harbor High School and Maryland Association of Secondary School Principals’ Principal of the Year.

As Pennsylvania’s Teacher of the Year, Crosson will travel the state, meet and collaborate with other educators, and will represent the commonwealth in next year’s National Teacher of the Year competition.

“I was stunned,” Crosson said of the honor. “The next two years will include many opportunities for me to advocate for educators in our state and to meet the next generation of teachers in Pennsylvania. I want to be a good representative for my profession and for the needs of our schools.”

In addition to English, Crosson also teaches advanced placement language and journalism in the Mifflin County School District, Lewistown.

“On the surface, English class might be about learning to read and write, but on a more significant level, it’s about helping young adults become lifelong learners, and that includes becoming lifelong readers,” Crosson said. “The statistics on adult literacy and how little the adult population is reading are alarming. Helping students rediscover the joy of books isn’t just about activating the imagination, although that’s incredibly important too — it’s a civic obligation to ensure we have a literate population.”

After graduating from Susquehanna University with a bachelor’s degree in English and secondary education, she went on to earn her master’s degree in educational leadership from Pennsylvania State University and a gifted education endorsement from Millersville University.

“I owe so much of my success and fulfillment within my career to Susquehanna. My professors were phenomenal; they were personable and always kept their door open for guidance outside of the classroom,” Crosson said. “Susquehanna unlocked my passion for global citizenship — something that has become a fundamental part of my pedagogy. Because of my study-abroad experience, I became a Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms fellow. I currently lead our school’s international trips, and I redesigned each course I teach to include global competency standards. SU’s commitment to educating the whole student is what allows its graduates to achieve such high levels of success.”