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PSU readies new teachers to begin their careers

The Pittsburg State University College of Education prepared a new crop of elementary and secondary teachers to go out into the world, Monday, with a special oath and the presentation of medallions that the students will wear with their regalia at commencement on Friday, May 6.
PSU readies new teachers to begin their careers
Lindsay Johnson, Pittsburg, Kan., left, and Kaela Lind, Parker, Colo., both elementary education majors, take the Teacher’s Oath.

The Pittsburg State University College of Education prepared a new crop of elementary and secondary teachers to go out into the world, Monday, with a special oath and the presentation of medallions that the students will wear with their regalia at commencement on Friday, May 6.

Howard Smith, dean of the college, said the Student Teacher Recognition Ceremony is a way to personally honor the students for their hard work. It also serves as a reminder of the importance of the profession they are entering.

“This is the 14th year we’ve done this,” Smith said. “It’s a very meaningful event for the students and their families.”

An important part of the ceremony is the group recitation of “The Teacher’s Oath,” a part of which reads, “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.”

As part of the ceremony, the College of Education honored two area teachers with its Awards for Outstanding Educators. The awards go to one outstanding elementary school and one outstanding secondary school teacher who have distinguished themselves within their first seven years of service and exhibit the potential to make significant contributions to education.

The elementary award went to Kendall Patterson, a first-grade teacher at Chanute Elementary School. The secondary award went to Julie Laflen, a speech and debate/forensics teacher at Pittsburg High School.

Patterson has taught in Chanute for three years. Prior to that, she taught at Westside Elementary School in Pittsburg. Patterson earned her BSED from PSU in 2013.

Patterson has been very involved in her building and district through the Building Leadership Team and service like the Chanute Senior Photos Project. She was a Horizon Award Nominee, and 2015 District Conference Math Presenter.

Patterson offered the graduating teachers bits of advice, beginning with suggestions from her first-grade students like, “take the kids out for extra recess,” and “just be nice.”

From her own experience, Patterson told the students to surround themselves with positive professionals.

“When you go to your new school, find a group of people who are supportive and helpful,” Patterson said. “Surround yourself with the right people.”

Laflen earned a bachelor’s degree in communication education from PSU in 2008 and a master’s degree in secondary education from PSU in 2010. She began teaching in 2009 as the debate and forensics coach and also the speech and theater teacher at Pittsburg High School. Previously, she has been an assistant forensics coach at Southeast High School and a debate theory instructor at PSU.

Laflen said she never planned to be a teacher, but listened to mentors who suggested she give it some thought. It was the right decision, she said.

“I am so happy,” Laflen told the students. “I have just as much enthusiasm for my students today as I did that first day seven years ago.”

Also at the ceremony, the PSU Office of Development and the PSU Foundation honored Garry Wickerd, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and Counseling with its Excellence in Teaching Award. The college also recognized four faculty members who are entering either full of phased retirement: Chris Christman, associate professor in Teaching and Leadership; Kenny McDougle, professor in Teaching and Leadership; Frank Miller, professor in Teaching and Leadership; and Bill Stobart, professor in Health, Human Performance and Recreation.

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