May 07, 2013 8:15AM
Nearly 90 new teachers took the Teacher’s Oath at Pittsburg State University on Monday. As their names were called and they walked across the stage to receive their medallions, many, like Ryan Pittsenbarger, were anticipating their first day with students.
Pittsenbarger, an early/late childhood major from Lamar, Mo., said he accepted a job offer from the Liberty (Mo.) school district on Friday. Pittsenbarger doesn’t know what grade he’ll be teaching. He said he will meet with district officials soon to see where he’ll be assigned.
Pittsenbarger said his cooperating teacher, Alicia Shorter, a second-grade teacher in Carl Junction, Mo., is responsible for him landing his first job.
“It was the best experience I think I could have imagined,” Pittsenbarger said of student teacher under Shorter. “I learned so much!”
And when it came time for the important job interview with Liberty officials, Pittsenbarger drew on his experience.
“Everything I said in that interview, I learned from her,” Pittsenbarger said.
Glenn Coltharp, vice president of academic affairs at Crowder College in Neosho, Mo., shared some words of advice with the new crop of teachers. He told them to ask themselves six questions every day as they drive home from work:
The first three, Coltharp said, are, “What went right? What went wrong? What do I need to change?”
The second three, he said, are, “Who did I connect with? Who did I not connect with? Who do I need to make a point to connect with tomorrow?”
To illustrate the power of those connections, Coltharp told a personal story of a kindergartner in his first classroom with whom he built a strong bond. The boy moved before the end of the school year and Coltharp never saw him again. Recently, more than 30 years later, the boy, who is now a successful artist, called his former teacher. He told Coltharp that other than his mother, Coltharp was the only person who ever believed in him unconditionally.
“Think of the impact you have on students,” Coltharp told the graduates.
After Coltharp’s remarks, the new teachers recited the Teacher’s Oath, which reiterated some of the speaker’s themes.
The oath concluded with these words:
“I will remember that I do not teach a lesson plan or a reading deficiency, but a human being, whose skills may affect the person’s future family and economic stability. My efforts will aim to teach the whole child, and help that child develop in mind and spirit.
“May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of teaching those who seek my help.
“I will be a competent, committed, caring professional throughout my career.”
Commencement for graduates in the College of Education is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 11, in the Weede Physical Education Building. For commencement information visit the PSU website, www.pittstate.edu, and click on the Commencement link.