Math took her to college, SED program paved the way to a career


Jennifer Priest Mitchell

Alyssa Beck-White (BA, SED ’16) was one of those kids who happily breezed through her multiplication tables as a third grader. She said she loved doing math and helping others with equations from a young age. “My dad was an accountant, and he always made math seem easy, so it’s kind of natural that I thought it was easy and enjoyed it.” While she knew she wanted to pursue a career in teaching, Beck-White said she wanted to learn as much math as she could while in college. “The Secondary Education certificate program was perfect for me. I took a lot of math classes and became really immersed in understanding all aspects of math and proofs, so I am very prepared to teach it. I earned the certificate so I could teach, but by waiting to begin that program until I was at a certain point with my math courses, I really got the best of both worlds.”

A graduate of Chandler High School in Chandler, Arizona, Beck-White said her own teachers also inspired her to teach. “If you have a teacher you like and who can make learning fun, you naturally like the class better than you would otherwise, and you might end up loving that class.” She said her high school advanced placement calculus teacher brought in oranges for students to cut open and use to find total area. “It was a little messy and a lot of fun, and we all remembered it really well and learned something.”

She knew from her freshman year of college that she wanted to take a lot of math classes and move on to the “proving tasks” rather than merely solving equations. Beck-White was pleased that the secondary education certification program at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College allowed her to focus on a subject she loved, then add the teaching certificate as she progressed and prepared for her career. She said, “In Gilbert, where I teach, we have smart boards and Chromebooks, and we use a lot of technology in the classroom.” In five years, she hopes that even more of her teaching peers will be as excited about technology as she is and will be using it in their classrooms, too. She also said, “I want to work toward a master’s degree at ASU so I can teach AP and dual enrollment classes. Those are the courses where I learned the most in high school, and those are what I want to focus on with my own students in the future.” Learn more about Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College’s SED certificate program here.

 Tales Out of School

 A lightning-round interview that introduces you to members of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College community. 

What three things are always in your fridge?

Milk, peanut butter and apples.

Coffee or Tea:


Last movie you watched that made you cry:

“The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2.”

Last book you read:

“Unhinged” by A.G. Howard.

Teaching is the most important profession because …

You are influencing the lives of your students. They look to you for support and guidance in all aspects of life. In a single lesson, you can teach them academic content and to be respectful and courageous and to think critically about the decisions they make.

 The teacher who most inspired you was …

Mrs. Lincoln at Chandler High. She was the quirkiest, most fun math teacher I ever had.

 What are you most grateful for?

My husband and my son. They have supported me throughout my whole college career, and they will continue to do so as I move on to my teaching career.

How did you choose your major?

My major is mathematics, but I wanted to obtain a SED Certificate to inspire my kids to be the best version of themselves that they can. I want to support them in all aspects of their life and look forward to watching them grow throughout the year.

Who inspired you when you were young, and why?

My Parents. My dad spent a lot of time at work, but he was always there for me at home to help with that tough homework assignment. It was a shocking day when I was taking pre-calc in college, and he could no longer help me with my math homework. Instead I taught him. My Mom was always excited over every good grade, and helped me when she could. I still go to her for advice about my life. She has guided me as an example of how to be successful in my marriage, my career and with my son.

Who inspires you now?

My husband because he always works hard and is there for me. He is a student at ASU as well, so we both understand the struggles of being parents, working and attending classes. We are there for each other, even though the road is sometimes rough, especially during finals. Without my husband, I would not be the person I am today.

What was the biggest risk you ever took, and what did you learn from it?

Having my son at a young age. I learned to be responsible, work under pressure and manage my time. I learned the importance of free time and witnessed how college students take advantage of the time they have. I learned to organize myself to stay on top of deadlines and still come out on top in my classes.

Three historical or fictional people you would have over for dinner:

The Doctor, David Attenborough and Dick Van Dyke.

What’s your favorite mode of transportation, and why?

Car because it is convenient.

What’s your go-to food?

Peanut butter.

ASU moment to remember:

During my student teaching it was amazing to see some of my C- and D-students finally get an A on a test. I was incredibly proud of them, and they were proud of themselves.

Biggest change in classrooms from when you were a child to today:

The amount of technology. Many classrooms have Smartboards, document cameras and iPads. It makes learning so much more engaging and fun. I hate having a quiet classroom.

Biggest mistake:

Not taking the second level of Java programming to get a bachelor’s of science that would allow me to take an accelerated master’s degree program.

Most adventurous thing you’ve ever done:

Kayaking the Salt River.

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self:

Take the second level of Java programming, and don’t take a coding class online.

Favorite movie quote:

“I know you're afraid, but being afraid is alright. Because didn't anybody ever tell you that fear is a superpower? Fear can make you faster and cleverer and stronger. Fear doesn't have to make you cruel or cowardly. Fear can make you kind. It doesn't matter if there’s nothing under the bed or in the dark, so long as you know it's ok to be afraid of it. So, listen. If you listen to nothing else, listen to this. You're always going to be afraid, even if you learn to hide it. Fear is like a companion. A constant companion, always there. But that's ok. Because fear can bring us together. Fear can bring you home. I'm going to leave you something, just so you’ll always remember… fear makes companions of us all.” –Clara Oswald in “Dr. Who: The Movie.”

 Pet peeve:

 Drivers not using their turn signals.

 App you can’t live without: