BEHIND THE APPLE: Karen Fuller, Alston Middle School
Karen Fuller, 46, of Summerville didn’t start out to be a special ed/resource teacher but her students and colleagues at Alston Middle School are glad she ended up as one.
A graduate of USC, Fuller began her career in Union where she taught fifth grade for six years and second grade for one year. Her husband got transferred to Myrtle Beach and she didn’t teach at all for two years.
Instead she spent the two years being a stay-at-home mom to her children. Eventually, however, she needed to go back to work and she wanted to teach in the same area where her children were enrolled.
“The only opening was a resource job,” she says. So she went and spoke with the principal who told her he couldn’t find anyone to take the position because it was part-time. She took it. To entice her, the district offered to cover the cost of the special education classes she needed to get certified in special ed.
By her second semester in the position, it turned into a full time job.
“I don’t regret changing to special ed,” she says, “I just wish I had more background in it. If I ever get a master’s it will be in special ed.”
Then her husband got transferred again to this area and Sam Clark hired her at Alston.
“I have certain students that I help,” she says, “and I co-teach in an inclusion model in 7th and 8th grades. I go to various classes and help my students…sometimes I will teach a whole class.
She helps reach all learners at all ability levels, she says.
“My specialty is teaching to a variety of learning styles.”
She is also the department head for special ed and oversees the needs of all the students at Alston. She is on the PBIS – Positive Behaviors Interventions and Supports – committee that helps create a positive school climate rewarding good behavior instead of disciplining poor behavior.
She manages Tiger Pride and her job is to choose the student of the month and the teacher of the month.
Her best moments are her students’ successes, she says.
For example, she says, “a child who has struggled in, say, math and then their test scores come and they have met the standard after years of not [meeting it].”
“Or I see a student I had years ago and they ask me if I ‘remember when’ I helped them with….”
Fuller says she recently had a parent – of a child she had years ago – contact her and ask for help with something.
Fuller says that Alston is a great school and its community is special. “The people in the community have a lot of pride in this school,” she says. “This school has served generations. I love coming to work – it is such a welcoming environment.”
Fuller’s mother was a teacher but she never imagined being her, she says.
“I always admired teachers but never thought I would be one…I wanted to do something different from mom. I was going to major in business, but then I took some business classes and didn’t like it at all.”
“The classes (and my grades) were much better in the education courses…and I used to play school as a child and liked it…and realized I liked teaching a lot.”
Fuller is married to Phillip Fuller who is with Grainger Industrial Supplies. They have two children – Coleman, 22, a senior at Coastal Carolina and Anna, 16, a junior at Summerville High.
When not in school Fuller enjoys reading and working in the yard, especially flower gardening. She is a USC football fan, a co-director of the Summerville Presbyterian Church Bible School and she and her husband enjoy kayaking together.
“My daughter cheers at SHS so we go to lots of high school football games.”
She least enjoys cooking.
She tells a funny story about buying a cookbook of slow cooker recipes and discovering her daughter thought the book was meant for cooks who were slow.
Her long-term educational goal is to get her Master’s in Special Education. Her goal as a teacher is to develop relationships with children to better reach them in order to help them.
And her life goal is to have raised her own children to be successful and happy in their relationships and old age.