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Students are great teachers
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 17, 2003 12:00
Jessica Wanke

ASU honors top practicing education majors

At the end of a recent school day at Carminati Elementary School in Tempe, student teacher Leslie Benoit sat in a tiny blue chair in the center of a semi-circle of captivated kindergartners, playing "I Spy."

Among her pupils were some who speak Spanish as a first language, a student born in Africa and one born in Asia.

For her 17 weeks of work with this class, Benoit was recognized by Arizona State University as an Outstanding Student Teacher in the area of multi-lingual/multi-cultural education.

The College of Education at ASU is working on turning out more teachers like Benoit - sharp, mature and capable - to educate the Valley's growing and diverse population.

ASU President Michael Crow has committed to expanding the College of Education, and plans are in the works to increase the number of graduating educators by 40 percent within the next five years, according to Karen Kimerer, director of professional field experiences for the college.

Kimerer said the program is headed in a positive direction, reporting a large jump in nominees for the Outstanding Student Teacher award this year from last.

"I think we had an exemplary group," she said. "Our programs are getting better and better. I think that's obvious by the quality of our (student) teachers."

This fall semester, the College of Education sent 405 student teachers to work in Valley schools, an increase from the approximately 350 the semester prior.

In addition to Benoit, seven student teachers were recognized for exceptional work in the areas of early childhood education, elementary education, secondary education and special education.

The College of Education is an important feeder into the Tempe school system. Of the 142 hires made this year by the Tempe Elementary School District, 46 are ASU graduates, 20 of whom were student teachers in the district, according to district spokesman Jon Brodsky.

Carminati Principal Linda Seymour said the partnership between Tempe schools and ASU has benefited the student teachers and the schools.

"It's always exciting to see that new enthusiasm," Seymour said. "It rejuvenates all of us."

Reach the reporter at jessica.wanke@arizonarepublic.com or (602) 444-7952.