Technology is one of the best parts of teaching


Jennifer Priest Mitchell

Lisa Gilliland (BAE ’12) said she always wanted to be a teacher, though she didn’t know how much technology she would get to use in her second grade classroom. “I would play school all the time with my stuffed animals when I was growing up, but I never played with technology back then like I get to now.”  She is part of a technology cadre in the Tempe school district where she teaches.

Members of this group are given new technology to use with their classes. “I was nominated to the cadre by my principal, and I love seeing all the things we can use to make learning more exciting. We just learned about Kahoot, a game in which we can input queries, and the students use it to collaborate and answer academic questions. They are learning and having fun in small groups when they use it.”

Gilliland’s dad was a middle school teacher in Page, Arizona, and for years she helped him set up his classroom and grade papers. “From a very young age, I was well-aware of the ‘not-so-glamorous’ side of teaching and all the necessary work outside of the classroom. But I knew that was part of the job, and I just always wanted to be with the kids and help them learn.”

Gilliland describes herself as an “all-out, lifetime Sun Devil.” She has an annual theme for her classroom, and she decided this year to make it all-ASU, using maroon and gold and Sun Devil spirit items to decorate the walls and bulletin boards. She said, “I think of my classroom as my home away from home. I love ASU, and by hanging up all kinds of Sun Devil bling, I will feel at home and share all that spirit and excitement with my students.” In five years, she would like to be a technology coach for other teachers, like the one who comes to her classroom.

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?

Eggs, cheese and salsa.

 Coffee or tea?


Last movie you watched that made you cry:

“Finding Dory.”

Last book you read:

“The Boxcar Children” (to my class).

Teaching is the most important profession because …

As educators, we get to show kids all of the wonderful opportunities that are out there in the world and inspire them to do amazing things.

The real-life teacher who most inspired you was …

This is a three-way tie. First, my dad, who was a teacher and who I helped all of the time as I grew up. Next, my mentor teacher during student teaching, Eva Ramirez, who taught me so much about teaching and life. Last, but not least, my site coordinator during student teaching, Michelle Franco-Westacott, who is an amazing educator.

Favorite fictional teacher:

Miss Honey from “Matilda.”

What are you most grateful for?

All of the wonderful people who support me, especially former teachers.

Why did you choose education as a major?

I had so many amazing educators growing up, and now I love being creative and working with kids! It is a perfect fit.

Who inspired you when you were young, and why?

My mom was a huge inspiration! She always shared her creativity with me. In teaching, you have to be creative all the time. Somehow you have to make every lesson work for ALL children, and that takes an immense amount of creativity.

Who inspires you now?

My students inspire me. I want to make them the best people they can be because that's what they do for me.

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

Moving from my small hometown to the big city. I didn't know it would be so hard, but it was. I learned that it really is about the people, so once I made some amazing friends here in Tempe, it became my home, too.

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

Harry, Ron and Hermione.

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

My truck, so I can show off all of my ASU bling.

What’s your go-to food?


ASU moment to remember:

I have so many amazing ASU moments. I met my boyfriend while waiting in line for a basketball game, so that's something cool to remember.

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

The technology! I love that I get to incorporate so many videos and engaging activities in my classroom. I can't even imagine life without it.

Biggest mistake:

Not being strict enough my first year teaching! It taught me so much for the future.

Biggest accomplishment:

I was named Outstanding Student Teacher of the Year when I graduated from ASU.

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

Don't try to be something or someone you're not, and don't worry what anyone else thinks. Do what you want to do!

Favorite movie quote:

"Just keep swimming." -—Dory from “Finding Nemo.” 

Pet peeve:

People chewing too loudly.

App you can’t live without: