Happy Saturday, Smarties! It’s a pleasure to introduce you to this week’s Smarty Mom, Ashley Icard (you’re not imagining things – you’ve heard the name “Icard” before on CSP. Ashley and Michelle Icard – aka “Michelle in the Middle” are sister-in-laws! Michelle has written for CSP on all things middle school. Wouldn’t you love to be invited to their next family dinner?!). Ashley is a mom, wife, freelance writer, and owner of Ashley Icard Academics, a company that provides academic services to high school kids and their families. I won’t go into too much detail here – I’ll let her do it all. All I’m gonna say is this: I will be taking Ashley out to many lunches, dinners, and maybe some wine bar nights in a few years – I want every bit of knowledge she has on high school and college kids!!
Smarties, meet Ashley!
Smarty Mom Ashley Icard
Smarty Mom Stats:
Married to: Kevin for 7.5 years
Children: Eli, 5 and Finn, 2
Hometown: Mechanicsburg, PA
Years in Charlotte: 10
Alma Mater: Messiah College
Tell us a little about the services you provide high school kids and their families.
I’m really a jack of all trades when it comes to tutoring. I work with kids who need a little extra nudge in the right direction from someone other than a parent. Most of the students I see struggle with organization, time management and prioritizing tasks, while others just need someone to sit with them and keep them focused while they do their homework. During a typical tutoring session, I might help a student with a project, homework, study for a test or simply cleaning out and organizing binders. I relate well to both kids and their parents which has allowed me to create a niche with families who need someone to come in and take over nagging about homework or an upcoming test. I take on a family peacemaker role many nights, which is a joy to me.
How did you stumble into this particular career?
I never expected that I would be a private tutor. I graduated with a degree in Communications, but felt a pull to go into teaching after moving to Charlotte ten years ago. I taught middle school language arts for a number of years, and ended up leaving CMS to work in college admissions in 2009 after my first son was born. I spent three years in admissions and while there had our second son. At that time, my husband and I decided it would be best for our family if I tried a non-conventional work approach to save on daycare costs and allow me to be home more with our boys. I was able to network and build connections which led to tutoring clients. I’m fortunate to be doing something that I love while being able to stay at home with my kids.
What do you think is the most important thing (you can have more than one!) for parents of high school freshmen to understand as their children start their four- year journey?
A child’s performance in high school is not always a reflection of who he or she will be as an adult or even a college student. Remember to show your children grace as they figure themselves out, both academically and socially. This does not mean lowering expectations; however, it does mean
that you have to be realistic and know that your kids will make mistakes, but with healthy conversations, those mistakes can turn into rewarding learning experiences and will help your child mature as he or she transitions from high school to college and into adulthood.
What’s the most important thing for the kids to know?
You’ve got to take responsibility for yourself. Each year of high school gets more challenging to prepare you for college. You, as the student, need to figure out the best way to keep up with your assignments, important papers, due dates, etc. What works for a friend might not work for you. Make it a goal for your 9th grade year to determine the best way for you to stay organized and keep on top of everything.
What are some of the best ways for our children to have successful high school careers?
Three things: 1) Stop making excuses – if you get a bad grade, acknowledge what happened and make an effort to change. 2) Learn how to be organized – organization is key to success and in college, no one will be there to go through your backpack each night, so start doing it yourself now. 3) Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Be assertive with your teachers and ask for clarification when you need it – they are there to help you.
What’s the most important thing for a high school senior and his or her parents to know about the college admissions process?
Keep an open mind and don’t make decisions based on your peers. There are so many great college choices out there; it’s really important to explore all your options. The best fit for you might not be the same place that everyone else is applying, in fact, the best fit might be somewhere you’ve never heard of yet!
Fave part of your job?
Getting to know kids and their families is by far my favorite part of my job! I love going into homes and living a little bit of life with people each week. I have become very close with several families that I’ve worked with over the years and am thankful for the friendships I’ve built with kids and their parents. I love that I get texts from my students telling me how they did on a test or asking me if I can come a little early to help with a big project. It’s such a rewarding job because I am in the thick of life with people and get to help navigate kids through difficult times and see their progress over the years.
Biggest challenge of your job?
Juggling a crazy schedule because no week is ever consistent with the last. My clients always have changing sports schedules, appointments, and extracurricular activities, so my weekly hours are never the same. The most stressful part of my job is fitting in all my clients when it’s convenient for them and making it work with my own family’s schedule.
A few more questions to get to know you better…
Favorite subject when YOU were in high school?
True confession: I was not a good student in high school. All I wanted to do was hang out with my friends and pass notes to boys. I did enjoy French though, mostly because my classes were always small and I got to know my teachers and classmates well. By French four there were only ten or so of us in the class together and it became really fun. I still keep in touch with several of my high school French teachers through Facebook.
What did your 16-year-old self think her adult life would be like?
I don’t think I ever really thought about my adult life beyond the typical “I’ll probably get married and have kids someday” attitude. I didn’t have a sense of direction or calling when I was in my teens and it wasn’t until my mid-20’s that I really discovered what I was good at and enjoyed doing.
Place you’d live in the US if you couldn’t live in Charlotte?
I’d live in Sea Pines on Hilton Head Island because it’s so peaceful and my family loves it. I’d bike to Starbucks in the morning, get my groceries from Piggly Wiggly, play on the beach with my kids, eat seafood and ice cream. Sounds great…when are we leaving?
Favorite place to shop for clothes for yourself?
I love Loft, but when it comes down to it, I’m a jeans and hoodie kind of girl.
Favorite piece of technology and why?
My iPhone is both a blessing and a curse. I don’t know how I’d live without it because I’m pulled in a million different directions for work, my boys’ school activities, church responsibilities, etc. and it keeps me organized, but it’s a constant distraction (I find myself checking my email and Facebook far too often).
Your 16-year-old self’s celebrity crush?
I was a BIG 90210 fan, so I’d have to say Luke Perry aka Dylan McKay.
Current celebrity crush?
I love me some Zac Brown – his voice is like butter.
Your family’s favorite home cooked meal?
Unfortunately I’m a short order cook these days because I have a very picky eater (which I swore I’d never have). I do; however, make dinner every night, even if it’s just for my husband and me. It’s our busy season right now, so the crockpot is my friend, along with grilled pimento cheese and bacon sandwiches. Not too gourmet. One day…
If you could tell your high-school-self anything, what would it be?
It’s okay to not be the cool girl. I was consumed with being part of the in- crowd in high school and should have been more concerned with choosing friends who liked me for me, cared about my well-being and helped me make wise decisions. I think this is something we need to remind ourselves of as adults, too.