Lew-Port special education teacher described as “angel”

Apr 3, 2017

A teacher from Lewiston-Porter High School has become the first Western New York educator to be inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame.  WBFO's senior reporter Eileen Buckley attended a special ceremony to honor her work.  

Special Education Teacher Ashli Dreher learned she will be inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Special Education Teacher Ashli Dreher walked into a surprise inside the lobby at Lew-Port High School. A student choral group lined a stair case performing.     

Dreher of Grand Island has been teaching for 21-years. She was named a New York State teacher of the year this past fall. But last Friday Dreher received word she will be inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame.

“Ashli, in many cases, it’s been a miracle, the work that you have done with some of these kids,” stated Lewiston-Porter Schools Superintendent Paul Casseri. He once worked with Dreher as her principal.          

Lewiston-Porter High School students perform at celebration.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Casseri noted her work with literacy development for special education students.

“They’re able to work in our community. They’re able to come to and be in regular classes. They’re able to interact with our complete school community – it’s a beautiful thing, it’s a powerful thing and it’s a tribute to the program that you’ve been able to put together,” said Casseri.

Special Education Teacher Ashli Dreher attends celebration.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Dreher said she is honored to be part of the Lew-Port family working with the many students and parents. It is her goal to help children become successfully adults.

“Were you surprised?” asked Buckley. “Yes, I was very surprised, up until I walked in and Mr. Casseri informed me that the National Teachers Hall of Fame was here to honor me.

Dreher said she has a ‘self-contained’ classroom. “A 12-1-1 comprised of students who have moderate intellectual abilities and development disabilities, so it is a language arts based life skills classroom,” explained Dreher. “And I just love it. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. I just love being in the classroom with the kids and I think that’s my calling. I really think that teaching – the profession itself – is a calling.”   

Students attend ceremony for Special Education Teacher Ashli Dreher.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Dreher was nominated by Lewiston-Porter parent Jennie Welder.  Welder's both daughters benefited from Dreher's work with reading. 

Special Education Teacher Ashli Dreher turns to Lewiston-Porter parent Jennie Welder who nominated her.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

Welder's older daughter, with Down syndrome, graduated in 2007 and a younger daughter with learning disabilities graduated last year and now has a job as a cleaner with the district.

“And she knows just the exact right things to do for each one of her students. I’ve always called her my angel – that’s why I say – she’s an angel – she really is. What she does is just amazing,” declared Welder.

Andrew Auer, principal of Lewiston-Porter High School, was beaming after delivering the surprise news to his teacher. 

“When I see what Ashli does in her classroom on a daily basis, and I walk by and see her incorporating the ELA standards and the literacy – it’s such a great feeling when you walk in there and those kids are absolutely ingrained into our culture here at Lewiston-Porter,” remarked Auer.

Dreher was required to submit her work to be considered for the honor. 

“The fact I’m fortunate enough to be the high school principal and that this teacher works in this district and in this building is just a benefit for not only the district, but also for the school itself,” Auer responded.

Carol Strickland is executive director of National Teachers Hall of Fame located in Kansas. She traveled to Lewiston-Porter to honor Dreher.  Strickland said Dreher is one of eight New York teachers now in their National Hall of Fame.  

Carol Strickland, executive director of National Teachers Hall of Fame located in Kansas, traveled to Lewiston-Porter to honor Dreher.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

“There’s something in the water – I don’t know what it is, but it’s probably what Ashli referred to here and that’s the support system, both in terms of who’s in office and who administers programs in the various schools,” Strickland said.

Dreher is one of five inductees selected. They will first be honored on April 28th at National Education Association gala in Washington. Then a formal induction ceremony will be held June 23rd in Kansas.   

“I’m just in shock that I’m actually selected,” Dreher declared.