Education a family affair for Robles clan

December 11, 2014

Judy Robles lives by a golden rule: no child of hers will ever leave home without a college degree. She says the same rule is also applicable to her.

“I want to be an example of perseverance, reaching your goals and finishing what you started, which is why I have spent the last few years pursuing my degree,” said the 43-year-old mother of five, who is also director of the Hispanic Mother Daughter Program in Educational Outreach and Student Services at Arizona State University. Judy Robles Download Full Image

Robles is the mother of NCAA wrestling champion, best-selling author, pitchman and motivational speaker Anthony Robles. She said that she came to the realization that education was the only way for her eldest son, who was born in 1988 missing his right leg, to become self-sufficient.

“I immediately anticipated the limitations and challenges he would have to face that were much different than my own; but I was determined for Anthony to have his own life, and to be able to rely upon himself and not me,” Robles said. “I discovered that higher education was his path toward self-reliance.”

Anthony Robles graduated in 2011 from ASU’s College of Letters and Sciences with a business communications degree.

Next week Robles’ own path toward self-reliance will advance when she collects her bachelor's of science in communication on the same day as her 23-year-old son, Nicolas, on Dec. 16, at Wells Fargo Arena. She’ll also address students at the Hispanic Convocation, on Dec. 17, at ASU Gammage, where she'll accept the fall 2014 Jose Ronstadt Outstanding Undergraduate Award.

“I have a true bond with the younger students because they are like family. There is a deep connection I feel with them because I remember being where they are now at one point in my journey. I constantly told them it was going to be challenging and tough but together we were going to make it,” Robles said.

At times, Robles said she thought of quitting but an inspirational quote on her computer desktop kept her going: "When you feel like quitting, remember why you started."

“In this last semester, I worked full-time and took five classes, and it was exhausting and I had no social life,” Robles said. “In the end, I can honestly say it was all worth it.”

Robles said she’ll pursue a master’s degree in higher and post-secondary education next semester at ASU. Her ultimate goal is to move to London, England, and work in a similar program with first-generation high school students wanting to pursue college degrees. But not before her other children, Joshua, 20; Ronnie, 19; and Andrew, 15, collect their degrees from ASU.

“As I continue to confront the question, ‘Why not me?’ I want my children to one day ask themselves the same as they go on to pursue a master’s or a doctorate degree of their own,” Robles said.

Reporter , ASU Now


Education grad goes above and beyond, secures dream teaching job

December 11, 2014

There was a time when Laurie Dutton thought she wanted a career in medicine. Then, in one serendipitous moment, she found her calling as a teacher. Now, the December graduate is preparing for her first professional job teaching seventh-grade science at Fremont Junior High School in Mesa, Arizona, beginning in January.

“I’m nervous and excited, but I feel prepared,” said Dutton, an elementary education major at Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College. “I know what I need to do to be successful.” 2014 Outstanding Teacher Candidate Laurie Dutton Download Full Image

Named one of the college’s 2014 Outstanding Teacher Candidates, Dutton credits her experience in Arizona State University’s nationally-recognized iTeachAZ teacher preparation program as boosting her confidence in the classroom.

During the program, Dutton co-taught in both seventh- and eighth-grade classrooms at Shepherd Junior High School in Mesa, under the guidance of mentor teachers. The rigorous, yearlong student teaching experience allowed her to create and implement engaging lessons and activities, and observe her mentors’ teaching styles as she refined her own.

“Laurie is passionate, reflective and always trying to improve,” said Jessica DeBiase, a clinical instructor and iTeachAZ site coordinator in Teachers College who nominated Dutton for her award. “She goes above and beyond, moving student achievement and serving as their model. She really cares about her students’ success.”

Dutton realized her niche was in teaching during an introductory education course at Mesa Community College, where she received an associate degree in elementary education.

“There was a quote about a career that builds and shapes all other careers,” Dutton recalled. “It was a teacher. I read that and said this is exactly where I was meant to be.”

After transferring to ASU in January 2013 and taking a science methods course from Molina Walters, a clinical associate professor in Teachers College, Dutton decided a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) emphasis was the right fit – and melded her original interest in medicine with her newfound passion for teaching.

“I focus a lot on inquiry and engaging students in their learning,” said Dutton, whose primary interest is teaching science. “It’s fun to see creativity happening while they’re learning different concepts.”

Pursuing science education also helped Dutton secure financial assistance through the Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) grant, a funding source for students preparing to teach math or science in a middle or high school classroom.

“I worked my way through college, and I was nervous about the yearlong student teaching and how I would provide for myself,” Dutton said. “Because of the SEED grant, I was able to focus on student teaching and my classes at ASU.”

Dutton added that the grant allowed her to participate in STEM-related professional development opportunities, including ASU’s environmental education program of distinction. The program, which requires 15 or more credits in environmental education-based course work, boosts teacher candidates’ qualifications to teach about the environment and environmental issues.

Beyond furthering her studies, the grant gave Dutton the freedom to expand her involvement in Teachers College. She was the AmeriCorps ambassador for her cohort, volunteered at Teachers College events and conferences, and served as a teaching assistant for Walters in a science education course.

“Laurie welcomes all of these opportunities and then applies what she has learned,” Walters said. “She wants to learn and experience as much as possible, and be the best educator she can.”

And although she’s graduating, Dutton is not quite ready to shed her status as an ASU student. In January, in addition to starting her full-time teaching position, she will begin a graduate program in gifted education.

“I love school – all of it,” Dutton said. “I think for people coming into education, the best thing to do is to work hard, enjoy the moment and take every opportunity that comes to you.”