Mountainview Elementary School principal Melissa Pritchard, left, congratulates Stephen F. Austin State University alumna Ashlee Brewster on being named the 2016-17 Teacher of the Year. Brewster has taught second grade at Mountainview since August 2014.

NACOGDOCHES, Texas - Ashlee Brewster, a 2013 Stephen F. Austin State University graduate, was named the 2016-17 Teacher of the Year for Mountainview Elementary School in Waco.

"I am incredibly honored to have achieved this award," Brewster said. "I feel as a teacher, I must be a role model to my students. I hope through this achievement, I have inspired them to do their best to reach their goals."

Brewster has taught second grade at Mountainview since August 2014, but her passion for teaching reaches back to her childhood.

"As a child, I wanted to be a teacher," Brewster said. "This dream was confirmed when my teacher asked me to peer tutor another student in elementary school."

Brewster has always loved interacting with children. As a teenager, she babysat for families in her hometown, Rosebud. In high school, she served as a mentor in pre-kindergarten and first grade classrooms.

"These experiences led me to my future career choice in teaching early-childhood-aged children," Brewster said.

Brewster entered college with 30 dual credit hours and graduated from SFA summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in interdisciplinary studies. While at SFA, she worked as a Math 127 and 128 tutor at the Academic Assistance and Resource Center and as a teacher's aide in the toddler classroom at the Early Childhood Laboratory - two of her favorite places, she said.

"From student progress to relationship building, I feel that my path to teaching has been very rewarding," Brewster said.

As an elementary teacher, Brewster believes students learn best by doing.

"I believe the inquiry-based approach to learning is the best way to teach," Brewster said. "I love teaching hands-on and engaging lessons. I connect our concepts to real-life experiences through questioning so my students can see the purpose in learning the content."

Along with teaching, Brewster serves on various committees and is involved with a number of programs, including the Hospitality Committee, Pedagogical Leadership Team, Waco ISD Succeed Mentor Program and more. Additionally, she works in partnership with Baylor University pre-service teachers.