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Back-to-school packs make a difference for Sun Devil educators

Teachers from across the country receive ASU-themed packs from Alumni Association, share their thoughts


woman making back-to-school packs

Carol Amaya-Andrade, event coordinator senior with the ASU Alumni Association, loads back-to-school packs for teachers on Thursday, July 23, 2020. Photo illustration by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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September 28, 2020

For the third year, the ASU Alumni Association offered complimentary ASU-themed, back-to-school packs for Sun Devil educators who teach pre–K to college. This year, the association kicked off the school year by mailing 3,541 of these packs to teachers who reside in 49 states, two U.S. territories and three countries.

“It has been wonderful to see the positive responses we’ve received from our alumni educators,” said Christine K. Wilkinson, president and CEO of the association. “Sun Devil teachers are on the front lines inspiring the next generation of lifelong learners and the association is delighted to see that the complimentary materials and resources we’ve provided for them, their virtual and in-person classrooms, and their students have brought them joy and Sun Devil spirit.”

During the process to request a back-to-school pack the association asked teachers to answer a few questions. Here are a few of the answers from the thousands of responses received.

Question: What inspired you to become a teacher?

“I wanted to help parents of a second language, specifically the Hispanic community. I want them to be able to be a part of their child’s education. Being bilingual allows me to help them through the process.”
– Jennifer Roman, Phoenix

“A student was struggling with math when I was substitute teaching and I explained the math to him and he started crying because nobody had ever been that patient with him.”
– Beth Anderson, Phoenix

“My former educators who guided me as a young scholar through my troubling childhood inspired me. They had faith in me when I didn’t and they pushed me through success and college. When I graduated from ASU, they were all still there. Therefore, I became an educator because I knew I wanted to be just like them, inspire kids and be there for them.”
– Crystal Alulema, Phoenix

“Wanting to help at-risk students believe in themselves and reach their goals.”
– Marcus Washington, Wilsonville, Oregon

Question: During these unprecedented times, what is your silver-lining story from the past six months?

“The beginning of this year is the first time I've ever seen kids desperate to be at school and learn. My students were SO excited for our year to start that they smiled their way through every Google Meet! When something we've always taken for granted (being at school together) was stripped away, my students learned to relish every learning opportunity we have now.”
– Bethany Tarzwell, Tempe, Arizona

“With distance learning, it has been difficult for many students, but I have had quite a few students rise up and become even stronger students than before. Without the added peer pressure around all the time, they’ve been able to focus and do more than previously.”
– Stephanie Esquivel, Phoenix

“As a high school teacher, it was very inspiring to see how all students pulled together through this tough time. I saw students hosting their own proms in their backyards and communities coming together to get creative to support the graduates. My colleagues and I came together to make yearbooks for our students, mailed cards and pictures, and drove to their homes to drop off a sweet surprise. I saw parades of teachers driving through neighborhoods to surprise their students. It made me proud to be in a profession with people who realize that even when things are hard, it's all about the kids and what we can do for them.”
– Alexandra Allen, Gilbert, Arizona

Question: Who inspired you and how do you use that to inspire your students?

“My mom is my everyday inspiration and she is the reason I fight to make sure my students are heard. As an English language learner in school, my mom struggled to find someone who cared enough to help her succeed. I want to be the one that my students know will always support and help them reach their goals.”
– Elizabeth Carpio, Queen Creek, Arizona

“Children that I have worked with throughout the years continue to be my greatest blessing and constant inspiration to learn, grow and be the best special educator and advocate.”
– Whitney Hawkins, Waynesville, North Carolina

“My own students inspire me. They have shown true resilience in the last semester of school. They worked very hard despite the difficulties the pandemic had put them through and they never gave up.”
– Alexa Ferrer, Mesa, Arizona

“My 6th grade teacher showed me extra attention when I really needed it — when others dismissed what I was going through. This reminds me that if a kid is acting out of not caring, there may be a reason and they might just need to know that someone cares.”
– Kristina Peterson, Mesa, Arizona

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