Another summer has come and gone, but needless to say this one was different for teacher Ashtyn (Tolbert) Huff. Not only did Huff prepare for a second year teaching in a global pandemic, but she also had to pick out a dress and plan a honeymoon for her Aug. 1 wedding. On top of all that, Huff added the title of cheerleading assistant coach.
The Rider Chronicle sat down with Huff to discuss how she balances her free time with her new husband, teaching and coaching the Rider cheerleading team.
Q: How were your wedding ceremonies affected by COVID-19?
A: I had to cut down my ceremony by about 50 percent, so we weren’t able to invite a lot of people that we wanted to. But, other than that, we still pretty much did everything the same. We still got married. So, really, it was great, honestly. And it was a little bit less stressful not having as many people there.
Q: Did you almost postpone or even call it off?
A: We thought about it and we had family members who really wanted us to because of their concerns of us having that many people in one place. But, we decided that, no matter what, we were going to get married on the day that we originally planned. So we did.
Q: Is there anything you would like to have done differently?
A: Honestly, I don’t think so. Obviously, I wish we could have had all of our family and friends there. But, we really were to the point where we were done planning with all the craziness. We were done listening to other people’s opinions. So, we were just ready to get married because it was just to the point where other people were telling us what they thought. We just wanted to do what we thought was best.
Q: What has been the most challenging part of being a new teacher for two consecutive years?
A: Being a new teacher in general is challenging. My age is probably the most challenging thing because I am still pretty close to some of the students’ ages here. I started out as a senior teacher, so it was hard to get classroom management down and stuff like that. But, now that I have freshmen, our age gap is a little different. It’s better. Just learning how to control a class and getting everybody to understand that I am their teacher, I am an adult and in my classroom, I’m in charge of my classroom.
Q: How does your first year as a teacher in a normal school setting compare to being a teacher in a pandemic?
A: (Last year) it was much easier to keep everybody on the same page. Because of remote learning this year, it’s difficult trying to keep the remote learners on task and doing what they’re supposed to do while also keeping the face-to-face learners focused and doing what they’re supposed to do.
Q: Has the switch to more technology-based learning been smooth for you?
A: Yeah, I think it’s been pretty smooth for me. Thankfully, I went to MSU and they taught us to really use technology as much as we could because this world is turning into a technology-based world. So, we were always encouraged to use technology as much as possible. A lot of my stuff was already technology-based, so it was a pretty easy transition.
Q: What prompted you to get into coaching the cheerleaders?
A: I cheered all through when I was little. So, from the time I was little through college. I always kind of had the idea that I might want to be a cheer coach one day. I knew a couple of the girls, so I was excited to get to kind of see them grow a little bit more. So, when the opportunity arose, I was like, “Yeah, let’s do it.”
Q: Do you have a background in cheer/dance?
A: I do have a pretty big background in cheer. I’ve cheered for 14 years.
Q: Has coaching presented you with any new challenges?
A: Time management, I guess I would say is the biggest one. Trying to focus on teaching English and then spending time working on cheer stuff. So, just getting that down and also taking time for myself.