SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A mentorship that started back in the third grade has come full circle. The young mentee is now a professor at Augustana University, working alongside his mentor.
Mike Amolins was Julie Ashworth’s student at Hawthorne Elementary 28 years ago.
“I used to meet with Julie every time I’d come home on breaks and she would encourage me to explore teaching as a profession, so I started working as a chemistry teacher in the Harrisburg School District,” Amolins said.
Amolins went on to earn his doctorate in education from the University of South Dakota.
“Julie mentored me through a lot of that process. The research, the courses,” Amolins said.
Then his lifelong mentor became a colleague.
“First you get to inspire them and then they come back and inspire you and enrich your life beyond measure,” Ashworth said.
A companion that’s stuck with them throughout the entire time they’ve known each other is a 27-year-old tarantula.
Ashworth even jokes her Augie students must hold the large spider before they graduate, because you must be prepared for anything while teaching.
“I tell my students this every day. It’s a calling. It is a way of life,” she said. “And that’s why we’ve been connected throughout our whole life. You have this incredible journey with your students and their families.”
“I just have this sense of calling to be there for kids and be there for the next generation and it’s just, it’s such a fulfilling profession,” Amolins said.
They both recall Ashworth reading Roald Dahl books to the third grade class, but there’s another memory that stuck with Mike, too.
Carter Schmidt: How about on October 28, 1993, when you were awarded the “citizen of the month” in Mrs. Ashworth’s class?
Amolins: “I pulled that relic out of the closet. I mean, those are the kinds of awards that you, hopefully, you get it and it acknowledges that you’ve been doing the things that you’ve been taught and I think that, when I look at that, I don’t think about myself, I think about the things that I learned in that class and what that has kind of obligated me to do now with my life as I move forward.”
Amolins also works as the director of instruction and federal programs at the Harrisburg School District.