As a child, Jason Fulmer saw a clear picture of his purpose. It was to be a teacher, or a "star polisher," as he likes to call those in the profession.
He started early, teaching a stuffed Mickey Mouse and Snoopy their ABCs. Then he moved on to neighborhood children. Now, at age 25, he is in his fourth year of teaching third grade at Redcliffe Elementary School.
His knowledge of teaching strategies and classroom-behavior management amazes his peers.
To engage parents, he had them write an essay "When I was in third grade." To teach the number line, he plays Moving on Up, the theme song from The Jeffersons 1970s sitcom.
To encourage pupils to read, Mr. Fulmer created a reading island in one corner of his beach-themed classroom. To make them want to write, he paired them with pen pals from USC Aiken.
Mr. Fulmer began giving ideas back to new teachers last school year when he created Stars, Supporting Teachers to Achieve, Reach and Succeed.
The creation of the teacher-support group was instrumental getting Mr. Fulmer named Redcliffe Elementary's 2002 teacher of the year. He will represent the school Sept. 17 when a districtwide teacher of the year is chosen.
"Everybody has something to give in education. You learn so many things from so many different people," Mr. Fulmer said. "I just look for strategies that work, and I try them in my classroom. I'm not afraid to try new things."
Mr. Fulmer is arranging monthly meetings for the school's six new teachers. The first one was held last week.
He invites other teachers, second-year teachers especially, because "they can provide so much," he said.
First-year dance instructor Tfifany Moore said she wished there was a handbook of information for new teachers.
"Like how to go to lunch and where the playground is," said Brent Kellem, a first-year, fourth-grade teacher from Indiana, "the basic things teachers forget they know."
For Ms. Moore, the meetings offer a totally different experience.
"I'm not a certified teacher," she said. "People with degrees know how to keep kids focused and how to reward good behavior. This is my education."
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