Graduates from Presbyterian College’s Department of Education took the oath for graduating educators during the annual Teacher Induction Ceremony Friday, May 10.
“In a few minutes you’re going to take the oath, and the first sentence and last sentence of that oath are pretty impactful,” President Bob Staton ’68 told graduates during the program at Kuhne Auditorium in Neville Hall. “In the oath, you commit — this is part of that first sentence — to formally accept your obligation to improve the general condition of humanity.
“That’s a pretty big undertaking, and it’s a pretty important commitment you’re making to do that, but it’s critical because you’re going to be preparing the future leaders of our country.”
“You’re going to be out there with them on the front line,” Staton added, “and you’re making that commitment. You’re assuming the responsibility to inspire them to go on to greater things, to impact other lives. So you’re impacting the future of not only your students but our country, and I applaud you for accepting that commitment.”
Carissa Messer, the 2019 Laurens County School District 56 Teacher of the Year, addressed the education graduates at the program.
Messer provided the address, “Plant. Grow. Harvest. Repeat,” which related teaching to growing a garden. Messer, who shared she tends to a small herb garden with her husband and children, noted plants need certain elements to grow: sunlight, water and soil.
“When I began doing research on planting and harvesting, the thought occurred to me that farmers and teachers — we aren’t so different,” she said. “Children need some things to grow, and as teachers, it’s our job to grow them. Provide your students with confidence, character and connection and then watch them bloom.”
When talking about sunlight, Messer referenced Dorothy DeLay, American violin instructor, who is quoted saying, “Children become who they are told they are.” Messer said instilling confidence, like sunlight, “drives passion and passion spurs growth.”
“A little bit of confidence or sunlight goes a long way,” she added.
Messer also talked about the element of water in education, comparing water to character and urging graduates to, “Drench your students every day in honesty, integrity and perseverance.”
She advised every teacher to have a copy of Maslow’s Hierarchy posted on the wall of their classroom. The multi-colored pyramid, she said, has continued to give her answers to questions about students’ needs from food, water, shelter and safety to human contact, conversations with mentors and deeply rooted relationships.
“As teachers, we are seed-planters. We plant seeds of great knowledge,” Messer said. “We shine on students strong rays of confidence. We lavishly water them with good character, and we establish roots deep in the soil of connection.
“The task is great, and the burden is not easy, but planting and growing and harvesting never has been. If you weren’t ready for hard work, you wouldn’t have chosen to be a teacher.”
Education Chair Dr. Patricia Jones led the Recitation of Oath. The 2019 education graduates include:
- Ms. Courtney Berry
- Mr. Jake Birdsong
- Ms. Cassandra Drezek
- Ms. Stephanie Harris
- Ms. Madelyn Kocoloski
- Ms. Helen Mcelhannon
- Ms. Ashlynn Powell
- Ms. Cady Roberts
- Mr. Casey Stevenson
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