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For over two decades, Dr. Elana Ashley has been presenting
educational and entertaining lectures, workshops and programs in schools, libraries and other community organizations in the Chicago metropolitan area for parents, teachers and students. She researched, developed and dramatically presented programs for preschool children through middle grade students in such areas as Drug Education, Character Development, Self-esteem, Child Abuse Prevention, and Conflict Management. Ashley’s programs have included a dynamite team of puppets; original stories, poems and songs; and discussion and role playing.


Present Programs

Her focus for the past five years has been on the issue of bullying and empowering audiences with anti-bullying know-how and strategies to handle difficult situations. An introductory program offered for students [kindergarten ─ 3rd grade] involves a dramatic reading of Ashley’s book Big Bully Holly Howler during which the author takes on the voices and personalities of the storybook characters. Following the reading, the duo of Ashley and star puppet Ellie Elephant interact with the participating children, emphasizing important concepts and asking questions based on the ideas and characters in the stories.

There are possibilities for three additional programs to follow the initial reading and discussion:
(1) Group discussion and role playing of bullying prevention strategies
(2) Building confidence and self-esteem through discussion and active repetition of positive words and phrases as individuals and as a group
(3) Learning and acting out a step-by-step Conflict Resolution Process to help resolve difficult, stressful situations

These programs will vary according to the grade level of the students for whom the presentation is planned.

Based on the same four topics referenced above, presentations can be planned for 4th ─ 5th grade students, as well as for 6th ─ 8th grade students, adding appropriate information and discussion for more advanced students.  Having the involvement of these older grade students in helping to participate in the actual teaching of the concepts in Big Bully Holly Howler to the younger children gives the older students
●the opportunity to become teaching assistants in the school community
●the opportunity to build their own knowledge base
●the opportunity to build their own confidence
●the opportunity to lead and show others the importance of taking pride in their own skills, talents and personal self-worth, as well as in their development of a new base of high values ─ respect and dignity ─ as the necessary groundwork for a Bully Free Society

A lecture, discussion and role playing workshop is available for parents with a focus on bullying issues, prevention strategies and positive methods for raising children to be confident, strong, supportive and generous in their words and actions.

Teachers and PTA members should discuss their program interests directly with Dr. Elana Ashley by calling 847.480.8998 or communicating with her via e-mail:

The photo below takes place at Nuestro Center Family Social Services in Highwood, Illinois for a group of Hispanic students who are attending a special afternoon program based on Big Bully Holly Howler towards the end of 2015.


Dramatic Performance and More… 

Whether using her theatrical and storytelling talents on stage at a school or a library; in a cable television series she created, hosted & co-produced called “My Hometown”; developing and hosting several individual, cable, children’s programs; in interviews on cable shows and radio shows, or at her own book or art exhibits, Dr. Elana Ashley uses dramatic skills and keen sensitivity to people issues to motivate interest and inspire audiences of children and adults to learn strategies that can help them cope with everyday problems, while also focusing on strong, ethical values, and the development of positive, self-esteem. Further, the entertainer also focuses on realistic and fantasy stories that draw out amusement and laughter from young and older audiences alike. No matter what Dr. Ashley may be doing during a performance, it is always Ellie Elephant or one of her puppet colleagues who have a special way of drawing in the attention, interest and amusement of young audiences.  

Whenever Inspired, Write…

Ashley writes whenever inspired, and the inspiration can take the form of poems, songs and dramatic prose. The works she has written span a broad spectrum of topics and themes. The subject matter includes such areas as history, love and war, politics, relationships, nature in all its beauty, the workings of the human mind, heart and spirit, and futuristic visions, to name a few. Ashley has developed a large collection of songs primarily in English, though she has composed several in French and Hebrew, while two other songs were translated for her to German and Italian.

Throughout the years, Dr. Elana Ashley has been composing poems and songs to accompany her educational and entertaining programs for students and adults. A very popular work she created for use at schools is a rap poem which concluded drug education programs for individual classes and for school assemblies ─ High in the Sky Drug-Free. When she dramatically recites this poem, children and teachers all stand up and join in with the chorus and accompanying gestures.

Originally written for older students, the poem Celebrate the Excellence Within emphasizes making wise choices; setting and achieving goals; high, ethical values; teamwork and positive self-esteem. Ashley has been dramatically reciting this poem also for adult audiences for many years, and this work continues to inspire people to think, explore new avenues and take meaningful action for themselves and on behalf of others.

Great Imaginings through Original Writings and Original Art

Especially during the years 2013 and 2014, Dr. Ashley was presenting a program entitled Great Imaginings through Original Writings and Original Art, as well as variations of this program, for adult and senior audiences. With her avid interest in writing and art, Ashley combined her earlier written works and recent original songs and poems with her original paintings and mixed media which are shown via power point to excited audiences. The responses to her programs have been truly striking.

To give you an idea of how deep and powerful her programs have been, read the following short review written by Gerri Fiterman Persin, Manager of the Healthy Living Center, Council of Jewish Elderly [CJE] SeniorLife, after viewing a program presented by the multi-talented entrepreneur at Bernard Horwich Jewish Community Center, 3003 West Touhy, Chicago, IL [October 24, 2014]:
“Dr. Ashley wowed!  Many thanks from the CJE SeniorLife Shabbat Lunch and Learn Program. The program attendees were thrilled by the presentation of original art, poetry, spoken word, songs, and life stories. The room was wrapped in her imagery and enjoyed every moment. The attendees were using all their energy to listen that a pin drop could have been heard in the room in between her sentences.” 

To read other written responses to Ashley’s combination programs of original art and writings, visit Program Reviews.

If you are interested in a dramatic sharing of universal messages, personal thoughts and feelings, and possibilities of having your spirit lifted to a beautiful place, telephone Dr. Elana Ashley at 847.480.8998 or request further program information via e-mail;

Education and University Teaching of Dr. Elana Ashley 

Ashley’s educational background includes a Ph.D. and M.A. from New York University in the fields of Ancient Near Eastern Languages and Literature, with a specialty in Ugaritology. She studied at the University of Maryland for two years, spent her junior year at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel, and received her B.A. from Queens College.

Ashley lectured at three universities, teaching Ancient Jewish History at Queens College in Queens, New York for one year, and teaching Hebrew language at Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio for two years and at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts for four years.