Dr. Marilyn Eisenwine: Teacher of Teachers
February 02, 2012
A member of the ASU teacher education faculty since 2000, Eisenwine previously spent 25 years teaching in Texas public elementary schools. That experience showed her the importance of a good reading foundation in students’ educational outcomes.
“I taught ‘K’ through4th grade all over the state,” she said. “While I was working on my doctorate at the University of Texas, right before I came to ASU, I taught a special reading program in Georgetown for seven years to at-risk first-grade readers. That’s where I really learned about teaching reading and how to reach those struggling children in the early grades.”
“If you can catch those children and bring them up to par,” she added, “they never get behind again in their reading. But once they are unsuccessful, it gets worse and worse because that’s compounded through the years.”
Reading-challenged students come from all walks of life. The trick, Eisenwine said, is teaching them to grasp reading skills early in their school careers. For some, that means turning them from being passive learners, where everything is done for them, into active learners. Eisenwine advocates giving students fun things to do that deeply involve them and help them take ownership of their own learning experiences.
Eisenwine focuses on methods for teaching reading and early childhood classes to produce positive outcomes.
“As a classroom teacher, you aren’t really that specialized,” she said, “but when you are teaching struggling students, you really learn how to reach them. In kindergarten, some of them do not grasp the necessary literacy concepts, but we had a one-on-one program where you got to know them like your own children. Seeing them begin to achieve reading competency was the most rewarding experience of my public school teaching career.”
While teaching elementary school in Georgetown, Eisenwine also gained college teaching experience as an adjunct instructor for two early childhood education courses at Southwestern University.
“That is a hard field,” she said. “Early childhood is a critical time for kids to learn basic skills, but there are not that many professors out there who are qualified teach it.”
Besides her professorial duties at ASU, Eisenwine also oversees the Pearl of the Concho Writing Project, which was started at ASU in 2004 by the late Dr. Cheryl Hines and is funded by a U.S. Department of Education grant. Pearl of the Concho is a site for the National Writing Project, which has more than 200 component programs nationwide, including 10 in Texas. The goal of the project is to educate teachers on how to teach better writing skills. ASU’s site annually trains 10–15 graduate students who are also full-time teachers, hosts summer youth writers’ camps for area students, conducts teacher training at San Angelo’s Education Service Center and hosts an annual literacy conference.
In 2011, Eisenwine took on the director’s post for the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the organization to which ASU’s College of Education reports, which helps ensure high-quality teacher preparation. She also wrote an accrediting report to the Association for Childhood Education International (ACEI) for ASU’s early childhood through sixth grade program, which earned national recognition until 2014. Both the NCATE and ACEI recognitions are firsts for ASU.
Eisenwine also serves as faculty co-counselor for ASU’s Mu Gamma chapter of Kappa Delta Pi (KDP), the international honor society for education. She has also advanced to senior status within her department, which allows her to also counsel and mentor young faculty.
“You come here and you are the new person,” she said. “Now two or three of us are the ones who have been here longest. I tell others I’m the department historian because we’ll be talking about a subject and I’ll say, ‘well, back in 2006, we did so-and-so.’ I know more about what’s happened and can give advice on what would be good for us to do in the future. I really feel proud to be able to give advice to people and be one of the established faculty members.”