SJC Long Island’s graduating child study majors gathered in the Muriel & Virginia Pless Center for Performing Arts Thursday, May 2, to take part in the Teacher Pledge Ceremony. Surrounded by friends, family and their professors, the students pledged their commitment to the profession of teaching and to their future students.
“On behalf of the faculty and the staff here in the child study department, congratulations,” Renee White, Ed.D., professor and chair of the child study department, said to the students. “I see how you’ve developed, how you’ve matured and how you are now ready to go out into the field and make a difference.
“I’d also like to welcome the guests who are here,” Dr. White continued. “I understand what it’s like to be the parent — to encourage, to support, to do whatever we can to make sure our children reach their goal.”
Ready for a Bright Future
During the ceremony, three candles were lit: the first in honor of the five pillars of St. Joseph’s College, the second for the students’ commitment to teaching and the third in gratitude of all they’ve learned through student teaching. After the lighting of the candles, the students recited the Teacher Pledge, which contains the six principles outlined in the New York State Code of Ethics for Educators.
“I’m very proud of my daughter,” Stephanie Clinton, mother of SJC Long Island senior Christi Clinton, said while choked up. “She’s worked very hard, and St. Joseph’s has a wonderful (child study) program. It’s going to give her a lot of opportunities.”
The Teacher Pledge Ceremony closed with an “I Am a Teacher” slide show, put together by Edgar Daniels, D.A., assistant professor of child study, which demonstrates the importance and power of the profession these St. Joseph’s students are now ready to enter.
“I can almost hear their future students calling them now because they can’t wait to have them as teachers and be influenced by them for the rest of their lives,” Dr. Daniels said.
History of the Teacher Pledge
The idea to have students pledge their commitment to teaching came from Barbara Traola ’72, assistant professor of child study, back in the 1980s. Knowing that other professions, such as doctors and lawyers, took oaths, she did some research to see if educators did the same. After finding the Code of Ethics, she decided it would be exciting to have a ceremony on the last day of seminar, during which her student teachers read the principles. This tradition continued as a way to celebrate her students’ dedication to their future career.
Traola eventually shared her idea with S. Mary Ann Cashin, C.S.J., assistant professor of child study, who helped turn it into the beautiful ceremony it is today.
“The Teacher Pledge allows us to really celebrate the heart of the matter and is a stirring reminder of what a privilege teaching is,” S. Mary Ann said.
SJC Long Island’s Department of Child Study hosts the ceremony for graduating students, bi-annually.
“It grew and blossomed into this most beautiful ceremony,” Traola said. “It’s quite moving and very fulfilling. It touches everyone. No matter how many times I see it, it still has the same impact.”