Courtesy of Aztec for Education
San Diego State’s new graduate student organization Aztecs for Education aims to help some of the university’s most passionate teacher candidates get their teaching credentials at SDSU by building networks and engaging in community outreach programs to benefit their professional growth.
“We wanted to have a group that would support credential candidates,” said Maggie Chiodo, the organization’s vice president. “It’s a rigorous program where you become close with your colleagues, but we wanted to do some outside projects and this is a great way for us to network with other professionals and make connections with others in the education field.”
This semester, Aztecs for Education will be volunteering to put on a literacy fair at a low-income elementary school in Barrio Logan. The event intends to provide an assortment of literacy-focused books, games and interactive activities to children. All costs will be covered through a rewarded grant from the student success fee.
“We want to be connected with our community and we want to help students at low-income schools,” Chiodo said.
President and executive director Daisy Delacruz said the organization’s members are partnering with nonprofit organization Educators Rising, which focuses on helping high school students become teachers. She said students can expect to hear from several speakers that have an education-related profession or are part of nonprofit organizations.
“We’re not doing a membership club where you come to a weekly meeting,” Delacruz said. “It’s more like come listen to the speaker speak and let’s just answer some questions if you have any.”
Both Delacruz and Chiodo said they had aspirations to become teachers when they were young.
Chiodo loves working with children and believes they are often underestimated.
“Really, they are just as smart as adults,” she said. “They are creative, unique and capable of much more then people give them credit for.”
While working an after-school job, Delacruz enjoyed using her background in musical theater to come up with songs and raps to help students learn some of their math.
“I had a teacher that kept putting an SDSU application in my inbox every day, and finally I applied,” Delacruz said. “Of course, now that I am in the program from undergrad, I am just so happy someone told me to be a teacher because now I’m falling in love with everything.”
Additionally, Chiodo said she looks forward to being a mentor who can advise undergraduate students interested in SDSU’s teaching credential programs.
“As a liberal studies recent graduate, I had no idea what the credential program was going to be like, and there was no way to figure out how to connect with credential students,” she said. “I would like to now be here for students who have any questions, give them tips that would help them and connect them with professors.”
Chiodo said volunteering in classrooms, for example, is a good way for undergraduate students to start getting involved.
Aztecs for Education meets once a month on campus in addition to planned off-campus community events. The definite meeting locations are yet to be determined.
Delacruz said anyone interested in a teaching profession is encouraged to come to one of their events this semester.
“Anyone can join events, volunteer and come to our meetings — we encourage that — but to be an official member you have to be a graduate student teacher candidate,” she said.