Southern Illinois University Carbondale's spring 2018 student teachers read the Educator's Oath at a pinning ceremony on Wednesday, May 9, 2018 in Guyon Auditorium.

CARBONDALE — Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s College of Education and Human Services welcomed 63 graduating students into the teaching profession on Wednesday in a pinning ceremony held inside Guyon Auditorium.

The ceremony was intended to mark an important milestone for the candidates: the moment they transitioned from students to professional educators.

Clinical supervisors read special comments for each of the spring 2018 graduates, highlighting the candidates’ strengths and detailing the particular ways every student teacher had matured as an educator during his or her time working out in the field.

The students received their SIU pins from their cooperating teachers, who had mentored and supported them throughout their student teaching experiences at various local schools.

“There’s no student here at SIU who didn’t have a teacher, and we really are celebrating the fact that our graduates will shape the future, and there’s no more important task,” said Nancy Mundschenk, director of the Office of Teacher Education.

SIUC Chancellor Carlo Montemagno spoke of his respect for the profession and encouraged the educators to remain positive.

“It is an incredible, powerful profession, and what you’re entering into is among the most honorable and impactful professions that we have in our country,” Montemagno said.

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Matthew Keefer, dean of the College of Education and Human Services, said it is a challenging time for the teaching profession. Keefer, who is chair of the Illinois Association of Deans of Public Colleges of Education, said the organization is working to address some of the challenges for teachers within Illinois, including the statewide teacher shortage.

“I just want you to know that we are waking up to how we need to help this profession and help foster and shepherd students through the experience of becoming teachers, and then supporting the profession after that in terms of professional development,” Keefer said, adding that he believes the profession will see a renaissance.

Cheryl Graff, regional superintendent of schools with the Regional Office of Education #30, gave the group of soon-to-be graduates a series of practical pointers on teaching.

“Reflect every day. There were days when I had planned a lesson, even when I had taught 28 years, and that lesson bombed. … But you reflect on that, and that’s how you improve and get better and think, ‘What do I need to do differently? What do I know about my students? Why did this lesson bomb?’” Graff said.

After all the candidates had received pins, the group read the Educator’s Oath together, affirming their dedication to the profession.

Speaking to the newspaper after the ceremony, Mundschenk said candidates traditionally serve as student teachers for an academic semester, but SIUC’s program tries to place candidates in a classroom for a full year.

“As important and as much a milestone as graduation is, students hear their name and they’re in their cap and gown and it’s celebratory, but we want to take the opportunity to say something individually about these teachers. The level of commitment that they’ve made, and that they’re making in the future in their profession, is so noble, and so singular, that we want to take time to pause, to put the spotlight on them,” Mundschenk said.

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