More than 100 high school and undergraduate students gathered at Kellogg West to learn about a career in teaching at the first annual Celebration of Teaching.
The student attendees at the Oct. 6 event, hosted by the Integrated Teacher Education Program (ITEP) in the College of Education and Integrative Studies (CEIS), were identified and nominated by their teachers and professors as having the potential to become future teachers. Following the nomination process, students were invited to attend the celebration.
ITEP is a new program within CEIS that offers a combined bachelor’s degree and credential program for students desiring an education specialist credential. Students can graduate with their degree and teaching credential in four years.
“The Celebration of Teaching was a great opportunity for students to receive insight and mentorship from local educational leaders,” said. Joanne Van Boxtel, director of the ITEP program. “We were joined by Isela Lieber, California Teacher of the Year, Pomona Unified School District (PUSD) Superintendent Richard Martinez, college students, numerous community partners, and university faculty and staff members from CEIS and other departments. We hope the students were able to take away some invaluable information that will contribute to their success and inspire them to choose teaching.”
Lieber, the 2016-2017 California Teacher of the Year and an instructor at James Monroe High School in North Hills, gave the keynote address.
In her address, Lieber gave an overview of the unique challenges and opportunities facing teaching, as well as the importance of striving to make a difference.
“Being a teacher is one of the most amazing careers out there,” she said. “For the last 18 years, under my personal and professional experience, I have grown to understand that teachers are activists; we are advocates; and we are major agents of change in the lives of the students we serve. We are role models for our students, who often times, have none.”
Lieber said that teaching is tremendously rewarding.
“You will have to rely on your patience, understanding, and you’ll have to go to battle every day to ensure that your future students are successful,” she said.
In addition to Lieber’s keynote address, the event included remarks from Pomona Unified Superintendent Martinez; Farris Hamza, president of the Associated Students Inc.; and Olivia Adams, a student from Mt. San Antonio College.
In his speech, Martinez cited his sixth grade teacher, Coralie Whitcomb, as someone who made a powerful impression on him.
“Mrs. Whitcomb made a difference in my life because she cared about me,” he said. “I’m still friends with Mrs. Whitcomb today. She and her husband have been there for my children’s birth, my graduations, and when I received the superintendency. They have been in my life for that long.”
Later, students were paired with veteran educators to address specific questions related to teaching.
“The event was really helpful,” said Allison Green, a Walnut High School student. “I wasn’t sure if I wanted to become a special education teacher, but this event gave me the confidence to overcome the challenges of the job.”
The program concluded with remarks from Ken Futernick, director of California State University’s Educorps.
Professor Heather Wizikowski, ITEP co-director, lauded the successful event.
“We had a great turnout,” she said. “So many wonderful district, community, and CPP partners came together to get the positive message across about teaching being one of the best careers out there.”