Teacher of the Year
Teacher of the Year Home
2006 Teachers of the Year
2005 Teachers of the Year
2004 Teachers of the Year
State Teachers
2003 Teachers of the Year
About the Program
Application and Selection Information

JASON FULMER, 2004 South Carolina Teacher of the Year

"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 explains.

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.