Ashley Karunaratne is beyond just a 2021 PA teacher of the year


PA awarding Ashley Karunaratne with 2021 Teacher of the Year with her family. Courtesy of Shana Remian.

Olivia Guy, Staffer

Biology and Leadership Skills Development teacher Ashley Karunaratne received the title of “2021 Teacher of the Year” for PA. Karunaratne teaches IB Biology HL 1 to juniors, MYP Biology to freshmen, and a Leadership Skills Development class. Kaurnaratne has been a teacher in Virginia Beach for 15 years, 10 of which were spent at Green Run High School and the last five years at PA. 

Karunaratne always knew she wanted to do something that involved working with people.

“For a while in college, I thought I wanted to be a doctor but realized that my passion lied within working and teaching others,” Karunaratne noted. Teaching quickly became something she knew was right for her; “I love teaching because it is always changing and I like to reinvent things to make them better for my students–so in that way, it is challenging, but a good kind of challenge.”

In the 15 years Karunaratne has taught, she has always taught some form of Biology such as General Biology, Ap Biology, IB Biology, and MYP Biology. Along with that, she taught a leadership course at her previous school, as well. 

Biology always intrigued her and sparked a passion. “I like being able to explain things that you can see everyday examples of around us,” said Karunarante.

Collaborating with others and learning together is what Karunaratne believes is “teaching” and she really enjoys doing that.  

Leadership is another passion she has always had. “I love exploring leadership concepts more in-depth in this course and also emphasizing service leadership through service projects with my students.” This course also allows her to become involved in student leadership projects such as being an SCA sponsor or a leadership workshop sponsor. 

In Karunaratne’s opinion, a “good” teacher sees their job as more than just teaching content but also about building relationships. 

Karunaratne wrote for The Page, “It is important to make students feel safe enough to step outside their comfort zones and to discover new skills and ideas.” 

Karunaratne is “honored by receiving teacher of the year,” and recognizes that “there are many deserving teachers at PA that the award can be given to.”

“I am honored because I work with so many amazing teachers at PA. I would not be in the position I am without the support of all the people around me,” wrote Karunaratne. 

While she does not have any specific reward goals in mind for the future but noted, “A big goal I also keep is to never stop growing as teacher.”