Fine arts faculty member up for Governor's Arts Award

March 4, 2013

Charles St. Clair, academic professional and fine arts specialist in ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences, is among the finalists for the 2013 Governor’s Arts Awards in Arizona. St. Clair was nominated in the Arts in Education, Individual category. Award recipients will be announced during a March 6 event at the Herberger Theater Center in Phoenix.

St. Clair is an Emmy Award-winning actor and director who has served as a faculty member on ASU’s West campus since 1990. He was the 2011 recipient of the Promoting Inclusiveness Award from the city of Glendale, Ariz. Active in the entertainment industry locally and nationally as a director and lighting designer for stage productions including “Race,” “A House with No Walls,” “The Colored Museum,” and “Topdog/Underdog,” St. Clair also has appeared in numerous films and television commercials. Charles St. Clair Download Full Image

At the West campus, St. Clair teaches acting, directing and technical production for the School of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies in New College. For more than 20 years he has reenacted the “I Have a Dream” speech by Martin Luther King, Jr., as part of the March on West event that annually brings hundreds of local middle-school children to campus during the MLK Week celebration on the West campus.

“I have witnessed Charles give tirelessly and freely to his students his knowledge, experience and expertise,” said Christopher Haines, artistic director of iTheatre Collaborative in Phoenix. “His former students are at the top of their professions from the studios of Hollywood to the Broadway stages of New York. We are professional actors, directors, designers, stage managers, producers and agents all across the country. I continue to be inspired by Charles’ creative genius and incredible talents spanning all facets of theater and film. His contribution to the arts in Arizona over the last 20 years is immeasurable.”

After the 2005 death of the renowned African American playwright August Wilson, St. Clair created a theatrical production and a video documentary called “August in April” to celebrate Wilson’s life and legacy. The cornerstone of the work was numerous video interviews St. Clair conducted all over the country with artists and close collaborators of Wilson, including James Earl Jones, Phylicia Rashad, and Viola Davis.

The theatrical play “August in April” was produced by iTheatre Collaborative in 2006, directed by St. Clair. More than 1,800 local high school students were invited to attend free school performances, and all of the ticketed evening shows sold out.

St. Clair’s interest in promoting dialogue and understanding among cultures recently took him to the West African country of Ghana. He and several ASU faculty colleagues successfully applied for a Fulbright-Hays Group Project Abroad grant to document “Stories from the Other Side.” The “other side” refers to those persons left behind when family members were taken away as slaves. Along with ASU professors and graduate students, teachers from Phoenix-area elementary and high schools made the trip.

“Students use terms like highly accessible, enthusiastic, actively engaged, challenging, demanding and influential in describing Charles,” said Duku Anokye, a New College faculty colleague who collaborated with St. Clair in applying for the Fulbright-Hays grant to conduct the Ghana project. “Charles is viewed as a master of his craft and students have clearly benefited from all his knowledge and talents. Even those who indicate having no interest in the arts find themselves having a change of heart about the field.”

“I am thankful for the support of so many who have given me the opportunity to be recognized for doing my life’s work, representing voices that often go unheard, trying to make a difference,” St. Clair said. “It is extremely important that I continue to practice what I teach and preach. I am blessed to be consistently working at my craft whether it be acting, directing, or designing and bringing that craft into my classrooms – I strive not only to help students learn how to create art, but learn to love the ‘art’ within themselves and not what to think but how to think.”

Arizona Citizen Action for the Arts, Arizona Commission on the Arts, and the Governor’s Office are presenting this year’s Governor’s Arts Awards, a tradition dating to 1981. The awards recognize the philanthropy and outstanding efforts of individuals and organizations contributing to the diversity and excellence of Arizona’s arts and cultural community.

New degree addresses critical needs in math, teacher education

March 4, 2013

A new bachelor's degree in mathematics, with a concentration in secondary education, at Arizona State University is now an approved teacher preparation program by the Arizona Department of Education. ASU students graduating under this degree program will now be eligible to receive teacher certification in the State of Arizona.

The need for highly-qualified math educators at the high school level is evident not only in Arizona, but nationally. The School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences hopes to meet this challenge by contributing a long-term solution through the development of this ASU mathematics-secondary education degree. Download Full Image

“[Students] leave high school thinking that mathematics is about memorizing answer-getting procedures and they return as teachers with the same knowledge and beliefs firmly intact,” according to documents filed to support development of the degree. “A principal problem in the quality of teachers’ mathematical preparation is that they leave high school with little understanding of the mathematics they studied. This has two ramifications: students are ill-prepared to understand university-level mathematics, and they return to high school [as teachers] having never revisited the ideas of high school mathematics, that they never understood in the first place.

"The result is a vicious cycle wherein poorly-educated high school students return as teachers, who have no greater insight into the secondary mathematics curriculum than when they completed high school.”

The new degree, which will officially launch in fall 2013, is expected to contribute to a long-term solution to this vicious cycle by focusing on future teachers’ mathematical preparation for teaching secondary school mathematics. The ASU degree stand outs for its sequencing of courses, which is designed to provide mathematics education students with early and ongoing experiences in inquiry mathematics, issues of learning mathematics meaningfully, and managing the learning of others.

Overall, the degree aims to address what it is like to learn mathematics meaningfully, by addressing the future teacher’s own mathematical learning and their thinking about how to facilitate the mathematical learning of others.

According to student services, enrollment in this degree should attract students seeking a teacher-preparation degree with great emphasis placed on subject knowledge. 

“We used to see a number of students who were torn between getting a degree in education versus a degree in mathematics,” stated Tracey Hayes, assistant director of Student Services in School of Mathematics and Statistical Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “This degree provides the best of both worlds – leading to a better-prepared teaching force to meet the demands and expectations of secondary education and beyond.” 

Admission applications are currently being accepted and will continue to be accepted on a rolling basis. For more information, visit or call 480-965-7195.

Margaret Coulombe

Director, Executive Communications, Office of the University Provost