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Taking your passion to the classroom

ASU Teachers College offers ways to turn almost any major into a teaching career

Noah Brown dressed as Shakespeare
March 24, 2016

Noah Brown has always loved literature and is an avid fan of Shakespeare.

“I realized I didn’t just want to read it, I wanted to talk to people about it,” he said.

“I didn’t just want to write, I wanted to inspire other people to write and tell their own stories.”

So he decided to teach.

“It just saddens me that people come away from high school after studying these great works of literature and think it doesn’t apply to them,” said Brown, a senior at Arizona State University who started as an English literature major and later added history.

“Language has such terrifying power. I believe there should be more animation, more energy, more personalization in the teaching of English.”

Brown is in a new program in the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. The secondary education certificate is a 30-credit program that allows students who major in such areas as science, math or the arts to become certified to teach in grades six through 12. The program can be added on to any major that would be teachable at a high school.

ASU is working to address a critical shortage of educators in Arizona by providing ways for non-education majors to become certified teachers, according to Jenna Kahl, the director of enrollment and outreach for the teachers college.

“If you’re passionate about science or math or dance or Shakespeare, those are all things you can teach,” said Kahl.

A student and an advisor talk at an education fair.

U.S. history sophomore Shawn Courson talks with certification program adviser Wendy Jabbour at the education fair by the Memorial Union on the Tempe campus March 22. Members of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College are encouraging students from other disciplines to follow their passion and discover a way impart it to others through the secondary education certification program. Courson would like to teach history. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Kahl said that advisers work with students to fit the 30 credits into their majors.

For seniors who are close to graduating or for people who already have a bachelor’s degree and want to teach, the college offers several master’s options, including one devoted to science, technology, engineering and math subjects. All provide student-teaching experience.

Earlier this week, the college held a fair outside the Memorial Union to spark interest in the secondary-education certificate and master’s programs. Brown dressed in costume to recite a speech from Shakespeare’s “Henry V” on the stage. Taylor Stephens, a future science teacher who’s in the STEM master’s program, performed science experiments.

Stephens graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in biomedical science. While at NAU, she worked for the athletics department, tutoring student-athletes in chemistry and biology.

“That got me thinking that I think I could teach this,” said Stephens, who will complete ASU’s 18-month master’s program this summer.

“I already know my content, and this program teaches you how to share your knowledge by teaching. I have a lot of passion about getting students to think and question,” said Stephens, who hopes to get a job in the fall in the Mesa Public Schools district, where she has been student-teaching.

The Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College was ranked 14th among 255 public and private graduate programs of education in the 2017 U.S. News & World Report Best Graduate Schools report. This is the sixth consecutive year in which the college has risen in the rankings since 2012.

In Arizona, 26 percent of teachers will be eligible to retire by 2018, according to the state Department of Education. ASU President Michael Crow has set a goal of increasing the number of qualified K-12 teachers by 25 percent and also of having 10 percent of graduates in all colleges, such as engineering or math, certified to teach.

“We’re trying to meet that need for teachers, especially in math and science at the high school level,” Kahl said.

Top photo: Noah Brown recites a speech from Shakespeare's "Henry V" at the Memorial Union on Tuesday. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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