MURFREESBORO — Some of Tennessee's finest future teachers got a preview this week of what they'll be doing every spring for the next 30 years or so: celebrating academic accomplishments at an awards ceremony.
Students in MTSU's College of Education accepted praise, applause, scholarships and thanks from the families, faculty and community who've supported their efforts to become the next generation of Tennessee educators.
The Monday afternoon ceremony in the College of Education Building moved more swiftly than usual to accommodate the threat of inclement weather, but Dean Lana Seivers said the brevity was no reflection of the importance of the honors.
Thanking the students’ families and friends, the supporters of the college and the students themselves for their dedication, Seivers was matter-of-fact about the challenges the new educators will face.
“I think it's a passion. It's not one for the faint-hearted,” said Seivers, a longtime teacher, administrator and former state commissioner of education before she accepted the deanship at MTSU.
“People who think you do it from 8:30 to 3:30 and you're done have no idea just how hard it is or just how much you care. Or just now much you know. There's no other profession in the world that's possible, that didn't start somewhere, without a teacher. Remember, when you go out and read about all that you're doing wrong, that you're not the problem. You're the solution.”
More than 50 students received undergraduate and graduate scholarships this year, and 21 students were recognized as special honor students for their superior grade-point averages. You can see the full list of honorees in the event program at http://ow.ly/wlGdx.
"There's a quote I really like (by educator Jacques Barzun) that says 'Teaching is not a lost art, but regard for it is a lost tradition.' I don't think that's true here at MTSU … and one of the reasons is because we have so many donors who make sure they recognize the art of teaching through scholarships and awards,” the dean noted.
“Nowhere more than in teaching do we know the importance of paying it forward. As you get out into your classrooms as beginning teachers, there'll be so many times that you'll reach into your pocket on that whopping big teacher's salary you make, and you're going to be paying for a child to have lunch money or go on a field trip … or somebody else who can't afford valentine cards to share. You see from the people who have donated (to create scholarships) just how to pay it forward.”
MTSU was founded as a teachers' college in 1911 and still is one of the largest producers of educators in Tennessee each year. It’s also the only Tennessee university training teachers for each of the state’s 95 counties as well as across the country and the world.
Citing a quote calling teachers “the gatekeepers of dreams,” Seivers told the students to keep that in mind.
“Teachers are the gatekeepers of dreams. Think about that as you go out into your life's work. Think about how many dreams, because of you, that some child is going to get to realize.”