story by Claire Miller
As a child, Cindy Fujimoto vividly remembers her parents emphasizing the importance of a strong work ethic and a good education as the two main tools for success in life.
“My parents wanted more for their five children than what they had growing up and they saw education as a pathway to this end,” she said. “I had a desire to work in schools with high-risk students with the hope of instilling in them what my parents instilled in me: The promise of a better life through education and hard work.”
Fujimoto is becoming a triple Panther this semester, having earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Georgia State University’s College of Education & Human Development in 1996 and 1998, respectively, and graduating this spring with her doctorate in teaching and learning.
Her 24-year career as an educator has focused on supporting students’ strengths and finding the most effective ways to address their educational needs.
She currently provides professional development to Reading Recovery teachers and has her own Reading Recovery students who she works with every day. In both of these roles, Fujimoto has seen how the Reading Recovery method – tailoring literacy lessons to individual students to improve their reading and writing skills – can have a positive impact.
“Reading Recovery sees students who need to learn in different ways from their peers, necessitating individually-designed lessons that address the specific needs of each student,” she said. “The goal is to follow the child by drawing upon his or her strengths and become co-workers, developing useful ways to co-construct meaning while interacting and sharing the task of the literacy learning.”
In her doctoral program with CEHD Professor Peggy Albers, Fujimoto has gained a deeper understanding of how teachers and students communicate during literacy instruction and feels prepared to continue working with most vulnerable students in her district.
“I returned to Georgia State for each of my degrees because of the quality of the professors and more importantly, their philosophies for teaching and learning align with my own beliefs,” she said. “This degree has allowed me to stay current and continue to be a learner, teacher and leader in my professional community.”