Donna Ashworth, Exceptional Educator Inducted 2018
Mrs. Donna Ashworth was an exceptional educator in the Dallas County School District. She was described by a former student as demonstrating a large amount of patience and genuine care for her students, which set her apart as a teacher. Her manner and professionalism always went above and beyond. She not only instilled the love of music in her students but the respect and appreciation for the role that music can play in a person’s life. She pushed her students out of their comfort zones to the point that they excelled at many levels including state competitions.
Mrs. Ashworth taught vocal and instrumental music for 46 years including her full-time and part-time employment. She began her teaching career in 1962 in Bolivar, teaching elementary music at North Ward, South Ward, Mitchell and Polk schools. It was the first year Bolivar had an elementary music teacher. The next year she decided to pursue her Master’s degree in music at the University of Missouri, Columbia. She remembers hearing of President Kennedy being shot, that fall, while she was working a part-time job at the Columbia hospital. The next semester, she returned to teaching, in the Independence School District traveling to three elementary schools. In 1964 she married Claudie Ashworth and they moved to Goodson and later Louisburg, before building their home on the family farm. Mrs. Ashworth then began her career in the Dallas County School District traveling between Louisburg, Long Lane, Windyville and Charity schools. The late 60’s brought transition for the small schools in Dallas County eventually consolidating into the Dallas County School District. She really enjoyed teaching vocal and instrumental music even though she traveled between the different schools. Each school had its unique characteristics. Charity had some string students and Windyville had a 4th grade band. The school was the community. They did many programs for the community. Long Lane had a monthly PTO meeting which included a variety of musical performances. It got students out of their comfort zones and to try new things. Charity had a big picnic and community day on the last day of school. The whole community came. At Louisburg, she cherished her work with Lovie Palmer, Marilee Arnold, and Leona Richards.
After consolidation of Windyville, Louisburg, and Charity, Mrs. Ashworth taught part-time after her son, James was born. She began her day at Mallory with beginning band, which she taught on the stage, and some 5th grade music and then traveled to Long Lane. Not long after that she went back to full time and then retired in 2000 but still went back and taught 2 days per week until 2008. She worked for several principals some of which included Pruitt Miller, Fern Martin, Barbara Randles, and Tim Boatwright. She also recalls working at Long Lane after the fire. All of the students were moved to the Mallory cafeteria setting up their classrooms in cubicles. She would teach music in the class cubicles.
She has also enjoyed many other aspects of her work in the music field. She continues to accompany the choir, the band and soloists for competitions and performances. She enjoys the opportunity stay in touch with students. In the summer of 1965 she began giving individual piano lessons after school or in her home. She has given piano lessons to more than 100 students over the years. She still works with one senior students. She has enjoyed her students and getting to work with them on a more individual basis. She hosted many recitals and attended many competitions. She taught three generations of students. When she taught 8th graders her first year, it wasn’t long until she was teaching their children.
Mrs. Ashworth was inspired to become a vocal and instrumental music teacher during her years in school. Her father was a minister and they moved around a lot. She graduated from Lebanon High School and then continued her education at Southwest Baptist College in Bolivar, which was a two-year junior college then, now Southwest Baptist University. She completed her Bachelor of Science degree in music education from Southwest Missouri State College in 1962, now Missouri State University. The degree included both vocal and instrumental music at that time. Ernie Pratt at Lebanon High School, as well as vocal teacher Meredith Rich and piano professor Dr. Adler were inspirational to her. As a college student, she was required to do recitals and performances including the senior banquet. While at Southwest Baptist College, she participated in a traveling choir which performed at area churches.
Mrs. Ashworth and her husband, Claudie have one son James Ashworth and his wife Lora, both Buffalo graduates, who manage a beef cattle operation on the family farm. James is also the General Manager and CEO of Southwest Electric, while Lora works in her family’s business Chapman’s Floor Covering. Their grandson, Spencer Ashworth, also a Buffalo graduate, currently attends Missouri State University pursuing a degree in agricultural business.