If you’re connected to Fort Lewis College in any way, then you’re connected to Richard Fulton, the twine that binds FLC to the greater Four Corners region and beyond. After 15 years of service to the FLC community, Fulton is packing his proverbial dry bag and shoving off toward the next horizon of quasi-retirement. Here’s a quick recap of one of his greatest contributions to FLC so far — because if we know one thing about Fulton, it’s that he won’t stop weaving the fibers that make FLC.
Fulton’s journey as an academic leader launched from Compass Montessori School in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, where he served as Head of School from 1998 through 2005. While there, he honed the idea of Big Work, a belief that one’s vocation or purpose would emerge out of smaller actions. With Big Work as his compass, Fulton got to work helping to forge FLC’s School of Education into the Four Corners’ pillar of teacher training.
"If you’re having fun as an educator, and your students are having fun, they’re probably learning something about the material."
With six years under his belt as faculty, Fulton stepped into the School of Education’s director role in 2011. Recognizing that Four Corners-based aspiring teachers traveled to Denver to receive teacher licensures, he and a host of innovative FLC faculty persevered to develop five online graduate programs in teacher education over the past six years.
These programs have broadened the geographic, cultural, and linguistic range of student teaching placements, offering experiential opportunities in a variety of settings, from Durango-based charter schools to rural reservation communities and even internationally to Costa Rica.
Before the wave of online classes became the new normal, FLC’s teacher licensure programs were designed to reach hopeful teachers as far away as Chinle, Arizona. These days, enrollment in FLC’s graduate programs is 50% Native American students, supporting efforts to not only keep teachers plugged into their families but also put their passions to use in their home communities.
“I’m just the facilitator, the connector, between an idea and...,” says Fulton. His voice trails off as he tries to verbalize the results of years of work that have served countless people from Silverton to Shiprock, from Pagosa Springs to Cortez.
As one of Fulton’s mentors told him long ago, “If you’re having fun as an educator, and your students are having fun, they’re probably learning something about the material.”
For Fulton, the fun and learning don’t stop on these uncharted waters, while he waits to see what’s around the bend. Till then, the FLC community wishes him bon voyage!