Jessie Fuller focused on how those looking to become involved in “helping” careers can go about their professions in a way that seeks to empower, rather than help, others during the School of Behavioral Sciences’ first annual Culture and Justice Lecture Series, Sept. 22, at California Baptist University.
Fuller, the speaker, has been named “Educator of The Year” by California League of Schools this year. She has also been recognized as “Outstanding High School Teacher” by the University of California, Irvine, and has been the Corona-Norco Unified School District “Teacher of the Year” twice.
Fuller’s lecture was titled “Walking Together: Redefining How We Help Others.”
“Helping sometimes puts this posture of ‘I know things and I’m going to transfer them to you,’” Fuller said. “But empowering people means that you’re actually going to come alongside these people and empower them to be their best self.”
Alex Slick, senior psychology major, said she found Fuller to be charismatic and entertaining, as well as informative.
“As a future therapist, that’s a good perspective,” Slick said. “We’re not meant to help people. We’re meant to empower them.”
Fuller currently teaches at a continuation school for whom she calls “at-promise youth.”
“Sometimes they’re called at-risk, but I like to call them at-promise,” Fuller said. “Because language matters, right? Language shapes reality. The problem with saying at-risk is that it causes us to lower our expectations. We need to be mindful of the language we use.”
Creating environments of support for at-promise children is part of Fuller’s mission. She said she believes every child is one caring adult away from being a success story.
Fuller said she also wants to encourage children to be supportive and caring toward each other, as well.
“It’s one thing for me, as an adult, to care for my kids,” Fuller said, “but when we create structures and environments that invite them to do that for one another, we invite them to participate in kindness and compassion and empathy, because some of them don’t even think that exists. Then a whole new level of kindness and caring and empathy is birthed.”
Danica Kinne, junior anthropology major, said she was encouraged by Fuller’s ideas and how they apply both in education and life, in general.
“Overall the evening was a wonderful reminder of one’s ability to invest in and treat others intentionally, whether that is in or beyond a classroom setting,” Kinne said.