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She got her start at Kent ISD’s Early Childhood Program after a ‘practice interview’

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Ashley Karsten was named director of Early Childhood programs for Kent ISD this summer

When Ashley Karsten drove from her East Lansing home several years ago for a job interview at Kent ISD’s Great Start Readiness Program, she thought it would be a good “practice interview” for a similar job she was seeking in East Lansing.

But when Kent ISD offered her a job the next day as an early childhood specialist, she cancelled the interview in East Lansing and accepted the offer. “I liked the atmosphere, I felt welcomed, I felt at home,” she says. 

This past summer, the Fenton native became the new director of Early Childhood programs at Kent ISD, which includes the Great Start Readiness program, Bright Beginnings program and the Great Start to Quality program. Great Start Readiness serves 3,200 children in 191 classrooms in Kent County. Kent ISD operates 69 Great Start Readiness classrooms directly with 140 teachers. 


  • Working on her doctorate in Childhood Development at Michigan State University:
  • She holds a Masters Degree in Child Development from Michigan State University
  • Earned an undergraduate degree from Central Michigan University
As a preschooler, Ashley Karsten says she loved Christmas and school

Jobs outside education: “My first job was at a Dairy Queen. I also was a nanny in college.”

What kind of kid were you in preschool? “I think I’ve always been a rule follower – a teacher’s pet. I always loved school.”

Family: Husband, Scott, owns and operates a landscape business. They have three children, ages 9, 6 and 3.

Biggest lesson you learn from kids? “Don’t take life too seriously. Make mistakes and get over it. Find the good in situations.”

If I could go back to school, “I wouldn’t be concerned so much about getting a 4.0 (grade average). I think I would enjoy school more and not put so much pressure on myself.”

If you walked into your new school building to theme music every day, what would the song be? “Cruise,” by Florida Georgia Line, says Karsten, a country music fan.

Ashley Karsten at the new demonstration classroom built recently for Kent ISD’s Great Start Readiness Program
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James Harger
James Harger
James Harger left School News Network in January of 2020. James previously reported on West Michigan's economy, courts and politics for The Grand Rapids Press and Mlive.com for more than 37 years. He also is employed as Servanthood Leader at Immanuel Lutheran Church in downtown Grand Rapids. A graduate of Central Michigan University, he also has worked for publications in Holland, Mount Pleasant and Lansing. He is married to Lisa and has one daughter, who lives in Ann Arbor.


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