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As many schools in Arizona are struggling to hire enough teachers this summer, Arizona State University is reaching out to support hundreds of high school students who want to be educators.
The Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College at ASU is a sponsor of the Educators Rising National Conference, a gathering of hundreds of young people and professional teachers. The event will be held at the Phoenix Convention Center on Friday through Monday. Educators Rising is a nationwide program that provides support and training to future and current teachers.
ASU faculty, staff, students and alumni will talk about teaching and give practical advice on affording college. On Sunday night, the teachers college will hold a huge dance party for the teens at the Tempe campus, according to Karina Cuamea, assistant director of undergraduate recruitment for the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College.
“We stress to them that this is the most important profession you can do, and we make them feel empowered by that,” she said. “We tell them that we’re here to support them, and that teaching is a leadership position and an innovative profession.”
Carol Basile, dean of the Teachers College, will give opening remarks at the conference on Friday, and the keynote speaker on Saturday is Daniela Robles, an alumna of the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College and the director of teaching and learning in the Balsz School District in Phoenix.
Teaching has been in the spotlight in Arizona for the past few years as many have left the profession and schools deal with hiring problems.
In May, the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at ASU released a report that highlighted some of the issues: Forty-two percent of Arizona teachers hired in 2013 were no longer teaching in an Arizona public school by 2016, and, when adjusted for statewide cost-of-living, elementary school teacher pay is the lowest in the nation.
In one of the most alarming findings, the report said that Arizona is losing more teachers each year than it is producing from its three state universities.
That’s why it’s important to recognize teenagers who have already decided to make that leap, according to Cuamea.
“When they say, ‘We want to change the world,’ we will help them with that,” she said.
At one conference panel, students will learn how the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College provides hands-on training for teacher candidates through iTeachAZ, its innovative program that places college students in a classroom with a mentor teacher for a full academic year.
Moesha Crawford, a junior at ASU, will participate in a panel called “What to Expect When You’re Becoming a Teacher.” She’s an ambassador for the teachers college and was part of Educators Rising when she was a student at Washington High School in Phoenix.
“It’s a great network for students so they can understand that there are other people like them,” said Crawford, who has wanted to be a teacher since she was a child.
“I used to play school with my siblings and draw on the TV with dry-erase markers,” she said.
“In sixth grade, I had a teacher who actually believed in me, and that changed my perspective on everything.”
Click here for details on the conference.