Future teachers at UNCP exchange ideas with veteran educators

Brave Scholars and NC Teaching Fellow scholarship recipients attend a Future Education Summer Symposium at UNCP on July 20, 2023
Brave Scholars and NC Teaching Fellow scholarship recipients attend a Future Education Summer Symposium at UNCP on July 20, 2023

More than 40 future teachers in the School of Education at UNC Pembroke got to network and learn from experienced educators who led professional development workshops and roundtable discussions addressing challenges and issues facing education today.

Loren Lamb, an incoming freshman, was among the students who attended the summer symposium on Thursday billed as ‘Building a Legacy: Leaving a Lasting Impact through Teaching.’

“I have learned so much from educators from all different backgrounds,” Lamb said. “I enjoyed learning about the culture of the classroom and how we, as teachers, must be prepared for our students’ needs.

“It’s been a very informative experience, and it has made me excited for the upcoming academic year and for becoming a special education teacher,” she said.

The symposium––explicitly held for North Carolina Teaching Fellows and Brave Scholars––focused on empowering scholarship recipients with essential skills, insights and resources necessary for their journey toward becoming impactful and transformative teachers.

During the day-long event, students received encouraging words from retired educator and keynote speaker Yolanda Epps before engaging in interactive sessions covering diverse topics from culturally responsive teaching, climate and culture, 21st-century teaching, teacher wellness, integrating digital technology and diversity, equity and inclusion.

“Cultural diversity, equity and inclusion were the big takeaways for me,” said Sharon Platt, a first-year student in the Master of Art in Teaching (MAT) program. She will begin her first year as an exceptional children’s teacher at Lumberton High School this fall.

“I believe inclusion and diversity are number one because you don’t know what a child is going through before they get to the classroom,” Platt said. “It is our job to make our classroom comfortable and offer a safe environment for all students.”

Education was a natural career choice for sophomore Donnie Jackson, whose parents are both educators, in addition to his years of teaching experience with the youth ministry at his church.

“I learned a lot of new teaching strategies and met some good people,” Jackson said. “I think this is what educators need–to connect with experts in their field.”

Dr. Diana Dubisky, director of the NC Teaching Fellows program at UNCP, said that networking and having collaborative conversations with veteran educators will allow for a smooth transition to the classroom.

“It begins with networking––an essential collaborative, reflective practice that all teachers must have,” Dubisky said. “This symposium is a great way to bring this wealth of knowledge and wisdom together to continue to empower them to stay as educators because, as we know, educators are leaving the profession.

“I want our students to leave feeling inspired, so they are having conversations with others who are inspired and empowered to continue this degree and to remain in the classroom.”