Sun Devil teacher packs inspire students

ASU Alumni Association gives back to alum educators across the US and world

October 13, 2021

Four years ago, the Arizona State University Alumni Association began offering alumni educators complimentary Sun Devil teacher packs filled with resources for teachers, students and their classrooms to support educators in their work and to inspire students to go to college. This year, more than 3,900 Sun Devil educators around the world kicked off a new school year with ASU swag from their alma mater. 

The back-to-school packs were mailed to all 50 states — as well as eight countries — to alumni who teach pre-kindergarten through high school. During the process of requesting a Sun Devil teacher pack, educators were asked what it means to be a Sun Devil and how they demonstrate ASU spirit in the classroom. Many ASU educators post on social media with the hashtag #sundevilteacher, showing their classrooms adorned with ASU banners, jerseys, flags, teacher pack swag and other maroon and gold memorabilia. ASU alum and current teacher Jenna Brooks smiles and holds up some ASU-themed swag she received as part of a Sun Devil teacher pack. Jenna Brooks shows off her new Sun Devil teacher pack. The ASU Alumni Association sent over 3,900 alumni educators complimentary teacher packs filled with resources for teachers, students and their classrooms. Download Full Image

Brandon Janes, an English teacher at Newbury Park High School in Thousand Oaks, California, said that he has a large ASU flag proudly displayed in his classroom.

“I tell my students about my experience at ASU and help them fill out their college applications,” he said.

Many Sun Devil educators, similar to Janes, are passionate about encouraging students to apply to ASU in the future, even if they are at a young age. Kimberly Martinez of the Academy of Math and Science in Phoenix realizes the impact that she can have on her first grade students in attending college one day.

“A lot of my students will be first-generation students, so it is important to me to tell them all about the amazing things that I learned and had the chance to experience at ASU,” she said.

During Deanna Forman’s time at ASU, one of the best things that happened was realizing her dream of becoming a teacher.

“Each day I am grateful for my ASU education,” said Forman, an elementary language arts specialist in Fairfield, Connecticut, who prioritizes empathy and love of reading in her classroom.

Educators are applying ASU’s charter to their own classrooms. Brian Adams, a high school teacher in Monroe, Iowa, shared, “As an educator, being a Sun Devil means taking inspiration from ASU’s charter by creating an inclusive and welcoming classroom.”  Adams encourages students to solve the problems they face with an innovative approach.  

More Sun Devil educators shared their classroom stories:

“Being innovative and trying to bring that into my classroom with STEM and PBL (project-based learning) projects.” — Katelyn Scott, Gilbert, Arizona

“It means we can always make a difference in our lives and the lives of others. Being a classroom teacher has been a wonderful way to support the future change-makers of our world.” — Jennifer Niklas, Washington, D.C.

“Being a Sun Devil means rising to the challenge and always looking for ways to improve our world for future generations!” — Rachelle Zimmerman, Portland, Oregon

“Sun Devils are lifelong learners. I pride myself on creating a classroom environment where students enjoy coming to school and learning.” — Joseph Sobieski, Raeford, North Carolina

“It means so much to me as a first-generation college graduate. I share my experiences with my students. It means always carrying the pride and the tradition of ASU and ensuring that I’m always leading with purpose.” — Albert Becerra, Arlington, Texas

“Being a Sun Devil means being a person who is measured by whom they include, not whom they exclude. I embody this in my classroom.” — David Howell, Mesa, Arizona

Learn more about the ASU Alumni Association’s Sun Devil teacher packs and commitment to supporting educators at

Macey Sierka

Student assistant, ASU Alumni Association

ASU Dance presents a season focused on creativity and collaboration

October 13, 2021

The School of Music, Dance and Theatre’s dance program announces a return to live performances with the 2021-22 season. In selecting this season, faculty members focused on taking innovative approaches, presenting unique collaborations and providing opportunities for underrepresented artists. 

“We are actively working on building more equity in dance,” said Keith Thompson, associate professor and assistant director of dance in Arizona State University’s School of Music, Dance and Theatre. “Dance is shifting, and ASU is leading the way.” Woman dancing in a white dress as it twirls around her body. The 2021-22 ASU dance season focuses on original, collaborative works.

In “Emerging Artists I,” Kathy Luo will present her MFA dance project, “Out of the Blue.” Luo uses a unique approach to contemporary dance-making. She frequently uses collaborations with musicians to create compositions that fit the theme and mood of her movement. She credits the combination of her undergraduate training in China and her graduate education at ASU for her fluid, creative style. In “Emerging Artist,” Luo worked with ASU student pianist and composer Nicholas Turner. Six dancers and three musicians are part of the dance project, which gives audiences a close-up view of the work and allows them to participate in the experience more intimately than in traditional concert dance. 

Mary Fitzgerald, professor and artistic director of dance, said this creativity is a hallmark of students in the school.

“Our students are really remarkable,” she said. “They have a lot of beautiful ideas and insights to share as performers and creators.”

Students in all three areas will work together this fall to present the collaborative, multidisciplinary work “Healing Wars” by Herberger Institute Professor Liz Lerman. The production, which will be directed by Thompson, uses words, movement and music to tell the story of hurt and healing of war. 

“This was a way to bring us all together,” Fitzgerald said. “A lot of collaborations have been happening across the three areas for years.”

One way ASU dance has been collaborating with and involving the community is through the “Sol Series” community events. The School of Music, Dance and Theatre is thrilled to bring back the “Sol Power” festival in November. This three-day event is held on the Galvin Plaza and showcases Arizona’s hip-hop culture, including DJs, emcees, graffiti artists and dancers. Part of this year’s festival will be the dedication of Nelson Fine Arts Center Room 28 to honor Marcus White, assistant professor of dance at ASU and an artist committed to the Black radical tradition, who died unexpectedly in May 2020. In the spring, the series will continue with “Latin Sol,” a celebration of Latin dancing and culture. 

ASU dance emphasizes art-making and creativity in every aspect of the program. SpringDanceFest is a carefully curated program where audiences can experience outstanding faculty and student work, including premieres by guest artists. Students also have opportunities throughout the year to showcase their work at “Transitions,” undergraduate and graduate project presentations and informals. 

“Our curriculum is both expansive and inclusive at the graduate and undergraduate level,” said Karen Schupp, associate professor and assistant director of dance. “Our program is focused more on devising than slipping into a role.”

2021-22 dance season

“Emerging Artists I”
By Kathy Luo, MFA student          
7:30 p.m. Oct. 29 and 30
2 p.m. Oct. 31
Margaret Gisolo Dance Theatre 

“Healing Wars”
By Liz Lerman
Directed by Keith Thompson
Co-production with music, dance and theatre  
7:30 p.m. Nov. 5, 6, 12 and 13
2 p.m. Nov. 7 and 14
Galvin Playhouse Theatre 

“Sol Power”
Nov. 18-20
Galvin Plaza 

Undergraduate project presentations
7:30 p.m. Nov. 18 and 19
Margaret Gisolo Dance Studio Theatre

10:45 a.m. Dec. 3 and April 29
Margaret Gisolo Dance Theatre 

“Transitions Projects I”
7:30 p.m. Feb. 4
2 p.m. Feb. 5
Margaret Gisolo Dance Studio Theatre 

“Transitions Projects II”
7:30 p.m. Feb. 5
2 p.m. Feb. 6
Margaret Gisolo Dance Studio Theatre 

Graduate project presentations
7:30 p.m. Feb. 24 and 25
Margaret Gisolo Dance Studio Theatre

“Latin Sol” 
April 8-10
Bulldog Hall; Student Pavilion 

7:30 p.m. April 22 and 23
2 p.m. April 24
Galvin Playhouse Theatre

Tickets are available online three weeks in advance through the Herberger Institute box office. Ticket prices and venues vary. All ticket sales are online only. There will be no in-person sales at the events. Please purchase tickets in advance; guests who do not have a ticket at the door will be directed to purchase them online.

All attendees at performances are required to adhere to ASU policies, which are consistent with CDC guidelines for colleges and universities. Face coverings are required in School of Music, Dance and Theatre indoor performance spaces. University COVID-19 information can be found at

Lacy Chaffee

Media and communications coordinator, School of Music, Dance and Theatre