"As an educator, you can be a dream maker and serve students by helping them develop dreams," Dr. June Atkinson, North Carolina's State Superintendent of Public Instruction told prospective teachers, educators and community members gathered Tuesday evening, October 9th, at Catawba College.
"In our classrooms, we have students with short-term goals but many don't have short-term, intermediate or long-term goals. In the big scheme of things, little happens without dreams," she continued.
Atkinson's appearance on Catawba's campus was in conjunction with the formal dedication of the institution's new Shirley Peeler Ritchie Academy for Teaching with its 14 new Dr. Martha Kirkland West Teaching Scholars, and a pinning ceremony for 29 current students who have been accepted into Catawba's Teacher Education program, sponsored by the Student North Carolina Association of Educators' (SNCAE).
Atkinson shared the story of her dream maker, a fourth grade teacher named Mrs. Anderson. "She was the teacher who helped me build dreams and build confidence. She started the habit with me of always having dreams." Mrs. Anderson's encouragement to dream, Atkinson said, was tempered by her high standards and expectations.
"The aim of developing dreams is to develop high expectations and to demonstrate those expectations at all times," Atkinson explained. "Students in our classrooms today are technology savvy, but they still need teachers to influence them.
"As a teacher, you will have influence over the minds and lives of your students and you will have true power to help students dream dreams they never dreamed."
Noting that the State of North Carolina needs 11,000 new teachers a year due in part to teachers retiring, Atkinson said to the prospective teachers in the audience, "I have a fear that principals will have the buildings, yet will still have a void that can only be filled by teachers.
"You are entering a profession that is the most trusted of all professions. There is no higher calling or nobler calling than to be in education," she concluded.
Dr. Shirley Ritchie Peeler '52 and Dr. Martha Kirkland West '59, both Salisbury natives and Catawba alumnae who have enjoyed long careers in education, were honored during the dedication of the Academy for Teaching and recognition of its first cohort of teaching scholars. College President Dr. Robert Knott noted that bronze plaques commemorating their many contributions to the teaching profession will be permanently displayed in the Teacher Education Department wing of Catawba's Ketner Hall.
Twenty-nine Catawba College students participated in the pinning ceremony which marked their admission to the Teacher Education Program. Admission to Catawba's teacher education program is not automatic, but rather requires successful completion of PRAXIS I standardized tests of reading, writing, and mathematics; establishment of a 2.5 or better grade point average; and an interview. Those admitted also passed a criminal background check.
Those pinned included Leslie Birch of China Grove; David Bloom of Marietta, Ga.; Jennifer Board of Kannapolis; Brandon Carter of Albemarle; Natalie Charles of Lexington; Kalin Collier or Rural Hall; Savanna Farris of Rockwell; Katherine Faulkner of Dunkirk, Md.; Alyssa Mae Florida of Harleysville, Pa.; Stacy Suggs Frick of Salisbury; Lindsay Hinkle of Murrells Inlet, S.C.; Allannah Irwin of Hershey, Pa.; Jamie Jakubik of South Plainfield, N.J.; Jonathan Kennedy of Mount Ulla; Heather Kick of White Plains, Md.; Jennifer Layton of Bridgeton, N.J.; Mary McBroom of Salisbury; Brian Messenger of Kannapolis; Scott Moyer of Kannapolis; Brittany Parker of Mount Ulla; Wilbur Pender of Franklinton; Catherine Perocchi of Hyannis, Mass.; Melissa Powers of Bennett; Mitchell Reeves of Jonesville; Daniel Ryan of Westborough, Mass.; Sally Schultz of Hilton, N.Y.; Debra Stanley of Mocksville; Raiza Toledo of Salisbury; and Glenda Weaver of Kannapolis.
Faculty advisors for the SNCAE organization are former North Carolina Teacher of the Year and Dr. Cynthia Osterhus and Mrs. Amanda Bosch. SNCAE officers for the 2007-2008 academic year include Christine Ofslager of Midlothian, Va., past president; Jennifer Layton, president; Alyssa Mae Florida, vice president; Melissa Powers, secretary-treasurer; Kristen Collins of Salisbury, sophomore representative; and Sean Cobb of Salisbury, freshman representative.