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Meet Our Faculty

Ashleigh Finn

Lead Librarian

Ms. Finn’s favorite genre is young adult realistic fiction, and reading it reminds her of what her students might be experiencing in adolescence. Did you know she has dual citizenship in Brazil and America?

Impacting Students
I created a unit for Kindergarten designed around fairytales using the Borgen Family Makerspace in the library. Each lesson consists of reading one fairytale (such as Goldilocks and the Three Bears, Rapunzel, and The Three Billy Goats Gruff) and assigning students a STEM challenge where they have to use innovation skills such as creative thinking, collaboration, grit/perseverance to create a solution. For example, after reading Rapunzel, students are tasked with designing an escape route for Rapunzel from her tower using a variety of materials. These lessons have a tremendous impact on my students as they are the epitome of hands-on learning and authentic engagement. Kindergartners rise to the challenge of these lessons and love to roll up their sleeves and think creatively. I am always in awe of what my students create and build; they are true engineers at heart! It has been a fantastic way to combine celebrating literature with teaching innovation skills and it is one of my favorite units to teach in the library.

Lifelong Learner
My work with the Diversity Cohorts over the past three years has had a significant impact on my teaching practice. I am constantly looking for books to read that provide windows, mirrors, and telescopes to my students, books where kids can see themselves in the characters and plot. For example, in my Fairytale/Makerspace unit with Kindergartners, I purposely choose different versions of the standard fairytale to disrupt the gender and race stereotypes. We read variants of the traditional fairytale that are set in different countries and cultures.

Favorite Teaching Moment
My favorite teaching moments are the ones that occur outside of the typical classroom structure. I have students that come into the library throughout the day, including before and after school. When a student is looking for a particular book, or has a specific research question, I use those one-on-one opportunities for teachable moments about how to locate books in our library and or how to delve further into a database or search engine to find the answer to their question.

Professional Passion
I am passionate about staying up to date with what's current in Children's and Young Adult Literature. I am also extremely passionate about diversity work and character education. In both my former role as a fourth grade teacher at Graland or now the lead librarian, I want my students to leave my classroom with a stronger sense of empathy and an understanding of the world outside of the United States.

Book I Can Read Over and Over
One of my all time favorite books to read aloud at storytime is Miss Nelson is Missing. I love doing accents and voices for the characters.

How I Found My Calling
I was an English major in college and had my sights set on sports writing. I became interested in teaching my senior year when I was looking for an opportunity to eventually move back overseas, as I grew up in a variety of countries and longed to return to an international setting. Without my realizing, I had a strong background in education, from spending my summers working with a class of Kindergartners in a low-income area to get them caught up and ready for first grade, to coaching 5- and 6-year-olds in soccer throughout my college years. I had sought out these opportunities purely for the joy of working with kids, without any intention to pad a resume or seek a career in that field. My first job out of college was a pre-K teaching position at an independent school in Boston and after the first week, I realized that I had found my calling. I love teaching as every day is completely different. I love the strong connections that I have formed with my students and I recognize that a lot of teaching is what happens outside of the lesson- being able to read and understand your students, engaging them in in-depth conversations and pushing them to realize their potential.

Outside the Classroom I’m ...
Snowboarding, practicing yoga, traveling within the U.S. and around the world, and spending time with family and friends. I will always be found with at least 2-3 books as well!

Life Goal
Travel to Patagonia.

Joined Graland in...
Also Known As ...
Department Chair, Team Leader, Tech Cohort Member, Diversity Cohort Member, Hiring Committee Member, Innovation Cohort Member, Innovation PLC, Southwest Trip Chaperone, Steamboat Ski Trip Chaperone

New Canaan, Connecticut

BA in English from Davidson College
MA in elementary education from Simmons College
MA in children's literature from Simmons College

Graland Country Day School

Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.