Family inspires ASU grad to earn teaching degree


Jennifer Priest Mitchell

ASU graduate student Jasleen Rooprai's first teacher is the one who most inspired her to become a teacher herself: her mother.

Her mother taught middle-school science in India. Rooprai attended school there until the 12th grade.

“It was difficult to come here as a senior in high school … but my mother was already here … she had moved to the U.S. first, and I was glad to join her. The teachers and everyone at the school made it easier for me by encouraging me and helping me.”

It was that kind of support that helped finalize Rooprai's decision to study education.

“My mom and my grandma, well, my adoptive grandma, went to ASU and so I knew I wanted to come to ASU and study, too. I heard good things about the program and knew it was the only choice for me,” she said.

Rooprai graduated from Arizona State University in 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in biology, and will graduate in December with a master’s degree in secondary education and a teacher’s certificate from Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.

“People were kind to me when I came here. … I had to adjust to a new learning style and teaching methods as a senior in high school. … That’s why in my classroom, I always teach students to respect one another and to appreciate one another.”

Rooprai said that being respected and appreciated when she was new to this country helped her gain confidence and work hard to reach her goals.

What’s most important?

“What’s most important for me is getting my students to learn; not just the material, but also learning to be good citizens,” Rooprai said. "Whenever there are issues or difficulties, I help them to have a class discussion about it so we can see what could be better and how we can do our best. When students show respect for others, most problems or difficulties can be avoided.

“My students do a lot of teamwork. When they work in groups, they see each other’s differences more, and they must overcome those situations. I tell them that throughout their lives they will work in teams. In their careers they will work in teams, and they must develop skills for this. Being respectful of others is one of the most important things anyone can learn.”

Rooprais’s specific teaching tactics in the classroom always include an exploration. She prefers using hands-on activities and stimulating many discussions among students. 

“I love using simulations of any kind to get everybody involved in the lesson and to be talking about anything new we learn," she said. "We play Pictionary or Jeopardy games with new material. Science can be very difficult because of all the vocabulary words. Students must have good reading skills and be able to grasp new vocabulary quickly to succeed in science.

“I never want anyone to stop studying or being interested in science because it is too hard," Rooprai said. "Sometimes when students think something is too hard, it is only because they need to develop several skills at once and apply reading, math and other skills together. By using these varied approaches and exploration in the classroom and having them do a variety of activities, each student becomes involved at some point, and they all can learn.”

Rooprai is now a student teacher in a middle school science classroom and she says her primary goal is “to be an excellent teacher.” She hopes to one day become an administrator or a college professor. 

“I just hope to keep learning and improving," she said. "My goal for myself is the same as my goals and hopes for my students.”