A Word With… Dr. Ashley Whitely


New to Wyoming Living is our A Word With… column featuring those who work in our community. In an effort to learn more about those spending 40-60 hours a week in our little burb, we wanted to find a way to scratch beneath the surface of a work-related interview. Wyoming High School Principal Dr. Ashley Whitely thoughtfully answered our questions, and we think you will really enjoy getting to know Ashley better. Enjoy!

Dr. Ashley Whitely
Title: Wyoming High School Principal
Years in this position: One year as Principal, five years as the Wyoming High School Assistant Principal

What was your path leading to your current career in Wyoming?
I was raised in Western Kentucky, which explains my accent; I taught high school English for two and a half years there (I graduated early, which explains the half year, before moving to Cincinnati.) My husband is a Research Chemist for P&G. His career brought us to the area, but we were reared in the same small town, Beaver Dam, Kentucky, and were high school sweethearts. I taught five years at Lakota East High School, where I also served as the English Department Chair. Near the end of my time there, I had the best of both worlds - teaching AP English in the morning and then having administrative duties in the afternoon. My first full administrative role was as the Assistant Principal of Wyoming High School, and I served five years in this role prior to becoming Principal this school year. I first knew that I wanted to work at Wyoming High School (WHS) when I was completing my administration license and did some observation with Aaron Marshall and Mike Overbey (he was the WHS Assistant Principal at that time). Wyoming is truly a special place, which is why I have also decided that my daughter, Addison, will be starting kindergarten here next fall.

What is the best book you have read this year?
Working on my doctorate left little time for outside reading, but when writing my literature review, I read a fascinating book entitled Ballerina: Sex, Scandal, and Suffering Behind the Symbol of Perfection. My dissertation is on assessing the light and dark leadership dimensions in ballet culture. That might seem an odd topic for a high school principal, but I have a ballet background and my daughter is also enrolled in ballet. The art form is truly breathtaking and mesmerizing, yet has a dark underbelly. However, some “lighter” reading was Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business, and although it centers around restaurant hospitality it is very applicable to various avenues of life.

What is your favorite movie?
I like a variety of movie genres, which makes it difficult to pick a favorite. However, I detest horror movies in that I am just too much of a chicken.What was your favorite subject when you were in school?
My favorite subject was English (more specifically Anglo Saxon and Medieval literature), explaining why I have both my BA in English and my MA in English literature from Western Kentucky University (Go Hilltoppers!) and chose to be an English teacher. Although I just completed my doctoral degree from Xavier University in Leadership Studies, I hope to one day also earn a doctorate in English.Who was your favorite teacher – and why?
I know that my love of the The Canterbury Tales not only comes from the work itself, but also the fact that my professor for my Chaucer class (as well as several others) in college truly transformed my life: he was a mentor and friend. He recently passed away but his influence on my life is unquestionable and is evidenced in the dedication of my dissertation.

What is your go-to-book to read?
I read Moby Dick and The Scarlet Letter every year, the two books that were fighting it out during their time to become the first American novel. They are two both riveting for different reasons, and Captain Ahab, Hester Prynne, and Reverend Dimmesdale, are quite complex.

What book do you wish every adult in Wyoming would read?
My favorite text is The Canterbury Tales, which has a little something for everyone; every tale is idiosyncratic and the language is lush!

What is one thing the Wyoming community does not know about you?
I love hotdogs. Although I could eat a plain one, the more stuff (e.g. coleslaw, potato chips, fried egg, etc.) the better. My family often frequents Senate in OTR and take me to Chicago and I am in heaven (the shopping also helps). In fact, Jim Diallo, the new Assistant Principal at the Middle School, while on the eighth grade trip to Chicago, sent me pictures of delectable Chicago hotdogs just to torture me. If I had a last meal, it would be hard to choose between a loaded hotdog and my husband’s meatloaf, truffle mashed potatoes, and roasted brussel sprouts. Another thing that might not be known is that I go to the Kentucky Derby each year with my father; the southern girl in my simply can’t resist a big ole’ hat!

What is your hidden talent?
My hidden talent is that I am wannabe event planner and often joke that will be my next career. I take great enjoyment in planning my daughter’s birthday parties.

Who is your idol?
With my love (addiction might be a better word) of shoes, I would say Christian Louboutin would be my idol because he gets to design exquisite footwear as a career. He, and Manolo Blahnik, helped make designer shoes a household name. I totally agree with his statement, “Shoes transform your body language and attitude. They lift you physically, and emotionally.”

Where would your dream vacation take you?
I would love to go to Egypt and tour the great pyramids, see the Sphinx, etc. I have dreamt about this for most of my life, and I would love to be able to go with my mother. Growing up, the rooms of our house had different themes and our master bathroom, at least until I was around seven or eight, had an Egyptian theme - blue lotus wallpaper, papyrus pictures, a sphinx statue sat on the back of the toilet. I thought our theme rooms where quite normal, but I have since learned otherwise. However, one can see the influence in my own house, and Ms. Wilking, our Athletic Director, teases me because my parties and events must always have a theme. Plus, I recently learned that one of the items my mother kept from elementary school years was a first-grade story I wrote where I had torn out a magazine picture of an Egyptian doll and then wrote a story about it, obviously inspired by our bathroom. A six-year’s old’s spelling of Egypt and Nefertiti is quite comical, but it was touching that she kept it. I hope one day we can travel there together.

What is the best play or musical you have ever seen live?
I recently saw Hamilton, and it was pure genius. I was a little skeptical going in, but it was poetry to music. I now listen to the soundtrack in my car (although I think Mr. Siler might know the words even better than me). Sometimes, I look at our students, and their thirst for excellence, and I can’t help but be reminded of the line from “My Shot”, “I’m just like my country, I’m young, scrappy, and hungry” in that they have a hunger for more and have their life in front of them in which to fulfill it. However, if I had to pick a musical to watch repeatedly is would be Les Miserables; my husband finds it depressing, but I love the music, but I did so even before I saw the production because of playing the piano.

If you could invite one person from history to a dinner party, who would you choose?
Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis because I have always been enthralled with the Kennedys. Even as a child, I collected Kennedy (both her and JFK) memorabilia, to the point that when she died, I even purchased a commemorative book from Sotheby’s of all of her personal items they were auctioning.

What is your guilty pleasure to binge watch on television?
Grey’s Anatomy - the quality has gone downhill since it first aired, but I think I am addicted to the characters. If a person heard me talking about them, he/she might think I was talking about real people. However, I am still struggling with McDreamy’s demise. The Food Network is also always on in our house, tantalizing our taste buds. I so wish we had smell-a-vision.

What business or resource would you love to see in Wyoming?
I am gastronome, so anything that will add to the food scene. When my family plans a vacation the number one stipulation is that the place or area must have good food. We enjoy dives to five-star restaurants and everything in between.

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
I love any flavor gelato, but especially the fruit flavors. When I have been in Italy, I literally try every gelateria I can locate.

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