by Claire Miller
Ashley Payton works as an early learning specialist at a PBS affiliate station, where she uses PBS Kids media content to connect with children and their families.
Since joining the master’s program in creative and innovative education (MACIE), she’s been able to apply her coursework on curriculum design, childhood development and community engagement to her work in the field.
Payton also completed an apprenticeship with VOX ATL, an Atlanta-based nonprofit organization dedicated to teen self-expression and publishing. She created quarantine-friendly lesson plans for educators and took time to listen to and learn from student creatives and activists.
“Working as an educator supporting learning cross-generationally is more than just curriculum instruction – it’s social and cultural anthropology,” she explained. “It requires mindfulness, participatory creativity, innovation, criticality and care. I’ve been able to grow intellectually and in practice thanks to the MACIE program.”
After graduating in December, Payton plans to become a content creator for both traditional and digital media aimed at children and families. She also hopes to become a television writer and a published children’s author.
“I want to use my voice to support families around the world by promoting social and cultural plurality,” she said. “We need more black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) creating the stories and representations we see and use.”
She also hopes that Georgia State students following in her footsteps will consider how they can have a greater impact in their communities.
“Color outside of the lines, and let passion and service drive you. Think not only about how you can enhance your own skills and intellect, but also how you can then use them to make the world a more equitable and joyful place,” Payton said. “Do not be afraid to think and dream bigger. Take up space!”