NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — Illinois State University’s College of Education partnered with Educators Rising Illinois to celebrate freshmen students committing to pursue a degree in education.

Director of Recruitment, Retention, and Student Services for the College of Education Kelli Appel said this is the first time there has been an event like this to celebrate the future educators.

“This is the first year we’ve done this event, so it’s new,” Appel said. “We’re really pleased with it and we love the opportunity to support and celebrate our future teachers. The idea was to celebrate those beginning teachers on their pathway and to really help them with that transition from high school to college.”

Over 120 students and faculty gathered in DeGarmo Hall on ISU’s campus to celebrate with refreshments, speakers, cake, and photos.

“This is a celebration of Illinois State University Teacher Education and Educators Rising,” said Appel. “We are celebrating the commitment that new students are making to become teachers.”

Students began the evening by writing about why they are pursuing education on a feather and placing it onto the ISU Redbird’s mascot Reggie.

Students then listened to words from the interim dean of the College of Education Dr. Todd McLoda and the Illinois State Coordinator of Educators Rising Dr. Lindsey Jensen.

McLoda spoke to the students about the history of the program and the connections they will make with each other as a student in the College of Education.

“We’ve been preparing teachers for over 165 years, this university was founded as a “normal school, which was set up to actually prepare teachers,” McLoda told the students. “As a point of pride, we are the largest preparers of teachers in the Midwest and the second largest producers of teachers among traditional education programs in the whole United States.”

He thanked the students for their commitment to becoming the next generation of teachers.

“I want to thank you for your commitment to becoming teachers as we all work together to impact the next generation and beyond,” McLoda said.

Jensen expressed to the students that they are not alone when it comes to those asking them “Education, really?” when they talk about wanting to be a future teacher.

“I have never once regretted my decision to become an educator. Not once,” she expressed. “There have been a lot of trials and challenges and struggles. There are going to be people who are going to look at you and go “Education, really, teaching, really? Are you sure?” 

She reassured students that even in this difficult time of being a teacher, she has never regretted her decisions.

“I am telling you, everything good that has happened in my life has happened because of my decision to become an educator and I will never, ever, ever regret that,” The 2018 Illinois Teacher of the Year reaffirmed.

Following the words from the speakers, the future educators signed their intent to pursue a degree in education from ISU.

The students and faculty closed out the evening by celebrating with cake, mingling with each other, and snapping some photos.