ASU ranks among top universities in Teach For America recruits

September 10, 2012

Arizona State University is among the top 20 large universities in the country contributing the greatest numbers of new graduates to Teach For America’s 2012 teaching corps.

ASU first appeared on the top contributors list in 2008 and this year nabs the 17th spot with 41 incoming corps members. Additionally, 4 percent of ASU’s senior class applied to the program last year. ASU provided more corps members to Teach for America this year than more than half of the Ivy League schools. Throughout Teach For America’s 22-year history, 194 ASU alumni have taught as corps members. Jacob Goulding, ASU grad now with TFA Download Full Image

Since 2007, ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College has maintained a strong working relationship with Teach For America. Hundreds of TFA corps members in the Phoenix region have earned their master’s degrees through a Teachers College program tailored to their specific needs. The master’s program integrates corps members’ teaching experiences and provides high-quality, supportive academic experiences.

Additionally, the Sanford Inspire Program, a collaborative initiative involving Teach For America and Teachers College, inspires people to see teaching as a high-impact profession, prepares teacher candidates to be instructional leaders who inspire students to achieve at high levels, and provides resources and innovative learning experiences to support educators in continuously increasing their effectiveness.

The Sanford Inspire Program has created a new two-semester student teaching course based on Teach For America’s best practices in training and supporting new teachers. Teacher candidates in the iTeachAZ curriculum learn how to set a vision and goals for student learning, help students feel invested in their learning goals, and work relentlessly to achieve those goals. The Sanford Inspire Program originated in 2010 with an investment of more than $18 million in Teachers College from entrepreneur and philanthropist T. Denny Sanford.

“We want to provide multiple avenues for talented, motivated people to enter the teaching profession,” said Mari Koerner, dean of Teachers College. “Just as importantly, we want them to stay in the profession – whether through work in schools, in policy or in politics. Teach For America has offered many opportunities for people to take on these leadership roles in education – a way to enter the profession and continue to work to reform schools.”

Teach For America corps members are top college graduates and professionals who commit to teach for two years in urban and rural public schools and pursue educational opportunity for all students. Teach For America recruits on more than 600 college campuses, seeking seniors and graduates from all academic majors and backgrounds who have demonstrated achievement, perseverance and leadership.

Teach For America works in partnership with communities to expand educational opportunity for children facing the challenges of poverty. Founded in 1990, Teach For America recruits and develops a diverse corps of outstanding individuals of all academic disciplines. This fall, more than 10,000 corps members will be teaching in 46 urban and rural regions across the country, while nearly 28,000 alumni are working across sectors to ensure that all children have access to an excellent education.

“We are grateful to the outstanding colleges and universities that cultivate graduates with the leadership skills and determination to address one of our nation’s greatest injustices, the disparity in educational opportunity between children in low-income communities and their wealthier peers,” said Wendy Kopp, chief executive officer and founder of Teach For America. “These corps members bring a diversity of experiences and accomplishments to the classroom, and they all share a powerful commitment to work toward solving this problem.”

Entrepreneurial spirit finds theatre grad developing app

September 10, 2012

Amanda Nguyen, a theatre graduate of the ASU School of Theatre and Film in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, saw the choreography in her mind, but translating it quickly to the Phoenix area high school glee clubs she directed was another matter. She needed the young performers to see how they as a group moved across the stage.

“The pen and paper blocking method was messy, difficult to edit and not sharable,” Nguyen said. “I started thinking, ‘What if we could slide performer pegs around in an application and project them onto the floor?’’’ ASU School of Theatre and Film graduate Amanda Nguyen was working with a Chandler, Ariz., middle school show choir choreographing a show for them when she had the idea for an app that could make sharing stage blocking easier. Photo courtesy of Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts Download Full Image

What began as a need that kept her up late at night making handwritten “X” and “O” formation charts, developed over 18 months into a business plan for an iPad app that would give stage managers, choreographers, directors and maybe even coaches what she had needed: an easy, effective way to record blocking and project that blocking on a stage.

Now Nguyen, who graduated in May with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and a Minor in Dance, is working with two other ASU alumni as part of a team they call BlockLight to design a company logo, complete wire framing for the app and begin development for the initial user testing thanks to a $12,000 ASU Edson grant.

She credits two ASU entrepreneurship programs with helping her move her idea from concept to nearly market-ready.

The first is the Pave Program in Arts Entrepreneurship in the Herberger Institute headed by Linda Essig, professor in the School of Theatre and Film. The Pave program awarded BlockLight a seed grant in September 2011 that Nguyen said was instrumental in helping win one of 20 Edson grants eight months later.

“Composing the grant applications for Pave and Edson lead us to explicitly define our mission, vision, market and milestone goals,’’ Nguyen said.

Early on, Nguyen collaborated with two other ASU students. The interdisciplinary nature of the team they formed gave them a competitive edge when it came to competing for the Edson Accelerator Program, according to Brent Sebold, venture manager for ASU’s Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative.

“To be one of the 20 is an absolute achievement,’’ Sebold said. “This is very competitive. There were 340 teams from across the university competing.”

When Nguyen was puzzling through a way to easily show her high school show choir kids their blocking, she brainstormed her problem with JJ Tang, who like Nguyen grew up in the Phoenix area and was a student in Barrett, The Honors College. Tang, who graduated in May with a Bachelor of Science in Finance from the W. P. Carey School of Business, said he was intrigued with Nguyen’s dilemma, her passion and the potential marketplace demand. An entrepreneur with two businesses already under his belt, Tang, a two-time Edson grant winner, contacted graphic designer Danny Martinez, an ASU graduate with a BS in graphic information technology who joined the team.

“When I had the idea it was not refined,’’ Nguyen said. “I had no idea about the app process, but ASU provides a wealth of resources including the ASU New Media Lab and we tried to access every one,’’ she said. “Without Pave, there would have been no Edson.’’ The process not only required them to sharpen their business plan but it gave them experience pitching their idea and credibility before the Edson judges.

“Artists are inherently entrepreneurial, but they don’t always have the support they need to launch their creative work,’’ Essig said. “Pave helps students develop arts-based products and ventures by providing them with seed funding and mentorship so that they can develop a business plan and, if applicable, a prototype. Amanda and JJ were able to leverage that initial development into a successful proposal for the Edson program, which will support further product development.”

Winning an Edson grant means entry into the Edson Accelerator Program at ASU SkySong, which provides budding new ventures with mentors, dedicated desk space, a computer and access to printers, a conference room and accountability. It elevates their enterprise beyond something they’re doing from a garage, Sebold said.

The track record for previous Edson grant winners is impressive, according to Gordon McConnell, executive director of Venture Acceleration for ASU Venture Catalyst. The 26 startups in the previous Edson cohort report nearly one-third in revenue and a combined total of $300,000 raised in additional funding and grants.

BlockLight is using the Edson grant to not only design a logo but to also have a prototype that can be put in the hands of first-time testers. “We’re trying to figure out what to call it and what to price it,’’ Nguyen said.

They are also talking about the future.

“We have been discussing the possibility of branching out to other applications that use the same model,’’ Nguyen said. “For example, coaches could utilize this app to create their game plans. The possibilities are endless and our number one goal is to keep the creative process/plan flowing more smoothly than ever before, no matter what discipline we target.’’

For more information about the Pave Program in Arts Entrepreneurship visit its website

Public Contact: 
Susan Felt
Coordinator Communications and Marketing

Media Contact:
Susan Felt
Coordinator of Communications and Marketing