SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Taking on a career in education is challenging yet has its rewards.

One Sioux Falls woman says teaching is one of the most important jobs in the world.

There’s an old saying, if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. And for Julie Ashworth…

“Every child I believe, and every young adult deserves the very best teacher,” said Julie Ashworth, Associate Professor of Education at Augustana.

She embodies that phrase every time she steps into a classroom.

“Teaching is not an occupation. It’s not a job. Teaching is a way of life,” Ashworth said.

Ashworth has been a teacher for 48 years.

In that time, she’s taught elementary school, special education, deaf and blind education and college students.

“I just always focus on them as potential contributing members of society, and inspiring them to be lifelong learners from a very young age until their adult college years,” Ashworth said.

“You’re always learning from Julie, whenever you’re around her, you soak up those incredible vibes that she puts off. So I mean, I will consistently even though I’m her colleague, I will forever be her student,” Jackson said.

Nick Jackson graduated from Augustana in 2008. He studied education under Ashworth and now works alongside her.

“Because of all those relationships that she develops with her students- that are lifelong- you know that she cares about you, you know that she loves you, you know that she’ll do anything for you. And then how can you not learn in her class, then if you have that connection, if you have that relationship?” said Nick Jackson, instructor and colleague.

One of the biggest parts of Ashworth’s teaching style is building relationships with students. She drives home that message with Chili the Spider.

“She represents so much of my teaching, stance and belief, and so much of my life philosophy,” Ashworth said.

Ashworth taught lessons of inclusion, bias and stereotypes with her arachnid friend for almost 30 years. She says Chili was more than just a spider.

“She’s just been a great teaching partner for me, because she teaches kids how to step out of their comfort zone,” Ashworth said.

Chili was a living lesson of why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.

“She really showed us that Chili is just like everyone else and kind of just liked to be loved. People would hold Chili and Chili would just kind of relax in their hands never caused any harm,” said Kinzie Gullikson, education major.

Gullikson met Chili when she was a sophomore in Ashworth’s class.

“Her class was really my first exposure to the education department at Augie, and you just walk in and feel her energy, which is something that I hadn’t experienced before,” Gullikson said.

Though Ashworth is semi-retired, and Chili is no longer around, she says her students are the ones who will continue to shape the future of our community and education.

“I have had this opportunity to be a part of hundreds of children’s, and now young adult’s lives at the college level and continue to be a part of their lives, as I get to mentor and watch them become teachers and be in their classrooms,” Ashworth says.

Ashworth says her work in deaf and blind education helped her and Chili bond. According to Ashworth, Chili was hard of hearing and was almost blind.