JASON FULMER, 2004 South Carolina Teacher of
"I enjoy my career because I have the opportunity to give feet
to dreams." This statement by Jason Fulmer sums up the dream-enhancing
potential he provides his third-graders at Redcliffe Elementary
School in Aiken, South Carolina. "Teachers are in the dream-developing
business," this teacher of five years says. "As an educator, I see
my dreams become realities as I help others reach further than they
thought they could. My greatest reward is inspiring students to
chase their dreams, celebrate their achievements and know that I
have helped them know, as the little engine said, that they can."
To help students respond to instruction and dream as a result, Mr.
Fulmer employs every bit of engaging instruction he can. If this
means taking a commercial jingle that student hear daily and rewriting
it to teach a math concept or tossing a beach ball with literature
questions printed on it to encourage discussion of a story being
studied, he does it. "Students should actively participate in the
learning process by experiencing, thinking and enjoying," he says.
"To make learning more memorable and enjoyable, a teacher must be
bold enough to try new things."
Among this boldness and growth as a teacher fairly new to the profession,
one particular core belief has become more and more strengthened
since he entered the profession: his support for the integration
of the arts in the curriculum. "Students become excited and engaged
when reached through the arts as they comprehend challenging, crucial
math concepts and other subjects through the power of music," he
One example involved a time when students were struggling with rounding
numbers to the nearest ten. Mr. Fulmer rewrote the lyrics to "The
Jeffersons" theme song, Moving On Up, to read, "Well we're moving
on up, up the number line, if it's five or higher we move on up
the line." Another time a student said she loved The Supremes at
the same time students were learning about geometric shapes. What
resulted was a rewrite of the lyrics to Stop in the Name of Love
to become "Stop, I'm an octagon, I have eight sides and eight angles,
think it over."
It is this ability to alter his instructional style that drives
Mr. Fulmer's passion for doing more than just the usual, helping
his young students not to become, as he describes it, "locked in
a comfort zone that restricts their growth. We must expose ourselves
to the unfamiliar," he says. "We become more valuable if we are
growing and stretching because growth is exciting and when we expand
our comfort zone additional opportunities appear. Apathy, routine,
repetition and lack of challenge will not inspire my students to
be the best they can. I must first put forth my best efforts to
inspire growth in others and be committed to the same task for myself."
The parent of one of Jason's students has especially appreciated
his ability to reach every child regardless of background or ability.
"He understands that children learn differently, appreciates their
individuality and focuses on their strengths," she says. "When Nick
was in Mr. Fulmer's class, I was impressed with the varied and creative
learning techniques to help all children succeed academically. He
made math and spelling seem like fun with innovative games such
as Around the World and Spell-Go-Round, and his incorporation of
music and singing sparks children's creativity and interest, and
helps them memorize important information. Often Nick was having
so much fun he didn't even realize he was studying."
And his principal says that with Mr. Fulmer's heart truly being
in teaching, his care, compassion and enthusiasm make learning an
exciting journey day to day. "Teaching is all about experiencing,
" she says, "and his students learn the value of each lesson because
he emphasizes the relevance and importance of each task. Every day
is exciting and every child feels special. Mr. Fulmer turns a classroom
of students into a family of learners eager to work together."
He has taught at Redcliffe since 1999 and holds a bachelor's degree
in elementary education from the University of South Carolina Aiken.