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Student Essay Winner and OVMS Teacher Honored at Trenton Thunder Game



Orchard Valley Middle School social studies teacher Ashley Sulla is living proof that effective educators can have an immediate, positive and lasting impact on kids.  At the completion of only her fourth year in the Washington Township Public Schools Sulla’s classroom connection was so impactful that it inspired an entry by then eighth-grader Sean Parchesky into the Trenton Thunder and New Jersey Education Association’s (NJEA) “My Hero Works at School” student essay contest.  The contest was open to all New Jersey public school students who were encouraged to submit short (no more than 250 words), thoughtful essays about a school employee who has had a positive impact on them.


Parchesky’s entry was chosen as one of four winners from 200 contest entries.  Sulla joined Parchesky and his family as guests of the NJEA and the Trenton Thunder at the NJEA Back-to-School game on August 1, 2019, when the Trenton Thunder hosted the Altoona Curves. Sulla posed on the field with Parchesky, after he shared his essay with the crowd.


Sulla, a 2007 graduate of Washington Township High School, holds a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s in education from Fairleigh Dickinson University.


“Ms. Sulla is an energetic, dedicated, hard-working teacher who is passionate about teaching social studies,” OVMS principal Colleen Cancila said.  Sean is an exemplary young man.  He was nominated as best of the best of his class which I believe is reflected in his essay about Ms. Sulla.”


“Ashley is a great teacher,” District social studies supervisor Jeff Snyder said.  “Not only does she make her lessons interactive and engaging, but she also prides herself in making personal connections with all her students.”



Parchesky’s essay on his 8th grade teacher follows:


Typically, heroes tend to be superheroes, sports players, singers, actors, celebrities, or even a family member.  Not everyone’s hero fits any of the categories listed above.  Sometimes people’s heroes are an “overlooked” hero, simply because what they do isn’t “significant.”  But, my hero, Ms. Sulla, works at school.


Ms. Sulla is the teacher students dream of having when they go to school.  Ms. Sulla always makes sure that she can connect with the students on a personal level.  If someone is a quiet student, Ms. Sulla will find a way to relate to that student to make them feel comfortable.  She is also very funny and humorous. Even if a student barely knows Ms. Sulla, Ms. Sulla still tells jokes or her entertaining stories that are very relatable, such as her dog stories.


Ms. Sulla is also a protector.  Everyday Ms. Sulla not only wants to make sure we learn new facts about social studies, she also wants to make sure we feel secure and comfortable at school.  Students aren’t feeling safe recently, but Ms. Sulla puts that all away. Ms. Sulla’s class is a relief for many, because if you’re struggling, personally or academically, Ms. Sulla will put you on the right track.


If Ms. Sulla wasn’t a teacher at Orchard Valley, my hero would likely be a basic celebrity, nothing to look forward to.  She ensures students are comfortable in her classroom and that we have someone relatable.  Ms. Sulla should no longer be an “overlooked” hero.


trenton thunder


Washington Township High School rising ninth-grader Sean Parchesky shared the essay that he wrote about his teacher Ashley Sulla while a student at Orchard Valley Middle during the Trenton Thunder baseball game on August 1st.  Parchesky’s essay on Sulla was among winners of the Trenton Thunder’s-NJEA “My Hero Works at School” Essay Contest.



trenton thunder


 WTHS ninth-grader Sean Parchesky poses with his former Orchard Valley Middle School teacher Ashley Sulla and “Boomer,” the mascot of the Trenton Thunder baseball team, on August 1st.