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College reaches out to inspire future teachers


November 20, 2008

Strains of the ASU Fight Song filled the night air courtesy of the ASU Dixie Devils band in the courtyard of Arizona State University’s Downtown Phoenix campus.  A crowd of teachers, parents, and middle and high school students gathered under the stars at a November event, called Teaching in the Heart of Phoenix, designed to inspire young students to consider becoming teachers.

ASU’s College of Teacher Education and Leadership sponsored the recruitment event to attract middle school and high school students to the profession of teaching and to consider teaching in their own neighborhoods.

“Through this event, we introduced young students to the idea of attending college to become teachers,” said Mari Koerner, dean of ASU’s College of Teacher Education and Leadership. “They were able to talk to their teachers, meet ASU faculty members and set foot in a college classroom. We hope that participating in this evening will inspire them to see that becoming a teacher is an admirable and attainable goal.”

The students were hand-picked to attend by Teach for America (TFA) corps members, part of a national program to place the most promising recent college graduates in high-need classrooms for two years. Through a partnership with the college, these TFA teachers attend classes downtown and work with faculty and clinical professors to earn their master’s degrees in education.

Along with music provided by the Dixie Devils and a visit by ASU mascot Sparky, the event featured dinner with a pep rally atmosphere.  In between speakers, guests had the opportunity of winning giveaways provided by the Phoenix Suns, Arizona Diamondbacks, KMLE Country and APS.  Speakers shared moving stories to select middle school and high school students in an effort to encourage them to attend college, choose an education career and teach in their neighborhood.

The students heard inspiring stories about how teachers make a difference from Koerner; Heather Carter, clinical associate professor and director of Education Downtown; Pat Murphy, ASU baseball coach and 2007 and 2008 Pac-10 coach of the year; and Clint Meyers, coach of ASU’s  softball team, winners of ASU’s first ever 2008 NCAA softball championship.

“There is no greater calling than being a teacher,” said Murphy. “It’s all about what you give back. We need people like you to pass it on.”

TFA corps member and ASU student Tyler Dockins told the crowd he grew up in a single parent household in Glendale with a brother who struggled with a disability. Through TFA Dockins now teaches special education in his former Glendale neighborhood.

Dockins was student body president for 40,000 students at the University of Washington, where he majored in geography. In this capacity he worked with administrators and elected officials on higher education policy in the state of Washington. He is currently working toward his master’s degree in education. Once his TFA service concludes he said he definitely wants to stay in education. “I don’t know if it will be at the teacher level—perhaps at the administrative or advocacy level.”

At the end of the evening, the students were each given a “Touchstone” by a faculty member sitting at their tables. The maroon stone with gold “ASU” lettering fit in a gold fabric pouch with a contact card so students can contact the ASU faculty member with questions about their education. The students were invited to tour the new Education Downtown office and classrooms.

A parent of a student thanked staff for the invitation, “I didn’t think anyone cared about kids down here. My daughter is excited about the Touchstone and that someone will be in touch with her.”

“The teacher who told me about the event was my social studies teacher, Ms. Orosco,” said Alisia Amaya, a 7th grade student from Quentin Elementary School. “I thought the event was very cool. It was neat how we got to meet new people and to listen to the coaches and their own personal stories. We even took a tour of the classrooms. I had a really nice time.” 

Jenni Thomas, jenni.thomas@asu.edu
(602) 543-5951
College of Teacher Education and Leadership