“No child arrives at school a student”


Erik Ketcherside

Like every teacher candidate from ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Lauren Orme (MEd ’16) is graduating with workplace experience, thanks to her student teaching placement. But Lauren had brought classroom experience with her as well, entering the Master of Education with Arizona Certification program after having been an assistant teacher in a small private school in the Bay Area.

“I had planned lessons before,” Lauren says, “taught for days on end, developed curriculum. I had led parent-teacher conferences. I was sure the real-life teaching experience I had, combined with the excellent curriculum in the ASU MAC program, meant student teaching would be a pleasant formality for me before graduating. I was very wrong.”

Lauren was placed in a high-needs school in central Phoenix. Every student there received a free breakfast, and most were on the federal free or reduced lunch program. Most were bused to school, or walked. Most were English language learners. It was shockingly different from the sheltered, privileged learning environment of her experience, and Lauren says she couldn’t be more grateful.

“My student teaching placement, and specifically the 26 students in my care, have profoundly changed both my teaching and my view of the world.

“No child arrives at school a student,” Lauren says. “I had to learn how to support a room of individual children so they become students. Knowing when a child desperately needs to run or laugh, or when angry outbursts are masked despair and require love instead of discipline, or when a child just needs a moment of security and peace are the greatest lessons my student teaching experience taught me.”

Lauren was honored as one of four Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College Outstanding Teacher Candidates at Fall 2016 Convocation. She shares some of her inspirations, memories and advice with potential educators.

What was your hometown like?

There was no town! I grew up on my family's cattle ranch located near Cordes Lakes, Arizona. I'm proud to be the fourth generation of my family raised on our ranch, and I celebrate my deep Arizona roots. 

Was there an “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study education?

My journey to becoming a teacher was a gradual, though natural one. I always harbored an intrinsic love of the world and enthusiasm for learning. I worked for several years as a marine science and outdoor adventure instructor, and it was there where I learned that the world through a child's unlimited imagination and hopeful perspective was where I wanted to dwell. It did not come as a surprise to me that teaching was my calling; my mother, who herself is a graduate of Mary Lou Fulton Teacher's College, was a tremendous teacher in Arizona for many years. Her example, passion and influence inspired me then and continues to do so. 

What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?

I was surprised by my passion for Title 1 (high-needs) schools. I was privileged to attend private schools myself, and had no experience with public school in general, let alone Title 1 schools. I did not anticipate falling in love with my students the way that I did. They came from disadvantaged backgrounds, and they changed my perspective on life, made me deeply appreciate the resilience and strength of their families, and taught me more about culture and community than I ever thought possible. I have a realized perspective on what is important and the true definition of success.

Why did you choose ASU?

I chose ASU because the MAC program (MEd with Arizona certification) had exactly what I was looking for. It suited my needs as an adult who needed to work during graduate school, and the accelerated program has launched me back into the workplace quickly!

What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

Save your money! Those loans are so beautiful when they disburse, but try to budget the best you can. I wish I had learned this life skill much earlier! 

Your degree program was based on ASU's Tempe campus. What was your favorite spot — for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

I love the walkway lined with orange trees along Gammage on an early summer night. The smell of those blossoms are quintessential Phoenix to me.

What are your plans after graduation?

I am temporarily relocating to Santa Cruz, California to pursue teaching by the ocean and continue working toward my dream of being a children's book author. I'll be back, though! 

If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

I would support sustainably operated farms and ranches by providing grants for environmentally conscious agriculture. Additionally, I would increase awareness and education about supporting local farms and eating sustainable, local food. Feeding our planet, doing it responsibly, and educating future generations on how to sustainably care for our earth is important to me.