Here’s what happens the first week at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College

By

Meghan Krein

Back in August, a flurry of freshmen gathered in the Farmer Education Building on ASU’s Tempe campus for the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College New Student Assembly to hear from Dean Carole Basile, college faculty and staff, and — quite possibly most anticipated — current students.

There was a bustle of activity as the stage was set up and students mingled, gossiped and met fellow education majors. These events can be intimidating, so it was comforting to see and hear the students at such ease. They asked each other about specialities and dorms and eyelashes. Yes, eyelashes. Clearly, the students were at home.

Dean Carole Basile kicked off the assembly by welcoming the students to MLFTC. “Every one of you is going to impact lots of kids no matter what you do in this field of education. And you never know where things are going to take you. It’s not about just becoming a teacher. You may end up in a school. You may end up in a museum. You may end up in a zoo. You may end up in a policy organization. You may end up in a university. There are lots of places that you can go with an education degree.”

Behind the classroom

Paul Morrison (BAE ’18) is just one example of that. The junior spoke about the literacy crisis our nation is facing. An alarming number of third-grade students are not reading at their level, Paul says. Why? Because third grade is a significant year — it’s the year in which the curriculum changes from teaching kids how to read, to teaching them content. So if students aren’t able to read by the time they’re ready to move on to fourth grade, they won’t be able to read the textbooks and learn from their teachers. That is a crisis.

Paul is problem-solving with the nonprofit Read Better Be Better, an organization committed to improving literacy. Paul doesn’t actually read to the kids. He works behind the scenes. “But I know that what I’m doing still has an impact on them. You don’t have to be in front of students in a classroom, you can help in dozens of different ways. The education field leads into a lot of different paths.” 

Hear Paul's entire talk below. 

Twice-exceptional

Abbie Graham (BAE ’18) has taken an exceptional path. She shared that, in coming from an underprivileged background, she didn’t think college was a possibility. But Abbie graduated at the top of her high school class and, with the help of financial aid, was able to come to ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.

She’s researching the correlation between mental illness and being gifted, which is close to her heart. Years ago, Abbie was treated for panic disorder, which hadn’t been diagnosed earlier because she was first labeled as gifted.

Since the mid-1990s,students who are both gifted and have emotional or behavioral disorders have been termed by the education community as “twice-exceptional students.” Abbie is teaching seventh grade, which is around the time mental health issues appear. “If we have people who are passionate to strive toward solutions, we can make an impact on the community and promote change for the better.” 

Watch all of Abbie's speech: 

Systems of support

The event wrapped up with an ice cream social, as most events should. But the main takeaway was: these freshmen are joining a community, not just a university. The current students had done what they set out to do: relay the message that they’d been there and done that. And at the end of the day, there’s nothing like the support of someone who has just been through what you’re experiencing.