Teacher Convocation returns to campus



Future teachers gather for the Teacher Convocation ceremony pre-pandemic. Two years later, the celebration returned to McLeod Wednesday, April 6.

MADDIE DAVIS, Staff Writer

After two-year absence, event celebrating those in Teacher Education Program returns to McLeod Center

The Teacher Convocation and Celebration has been an important event recognizing students in the Teacher Education Program since 1995. After a two-year absence from this much-awaited celebration, this event has been brought back to life Wednesday, April 6, at 4 p.m. in the McLeod Center.

The last Teacher Convocation took place in the Fall of 2019 and was canceled in the Spring of 2020 amid COVID-19 restrictions. Traditionally this event is held in Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center, celebrating 200 students or less that have just been admitted to the Teacher Education Program. This year nearly 500 students will be seated on the court with 1,200 guests, including family and friends witnessing their loved ones’ induction into the teaching profession from the stands above. 

Many students have felt the pandemic’s negative effects, such as isolation and putting in the extra work without validation or reward. 

Alex Powell, a senior studying Early Childhood Education and recent Teacher Education Program admittee, said, “Because of Covid, we haven’t been able to do a lot like in-person observations and have our usual events. It’s been so much work without a lot of reward. Now it’s like I have something to show.” 

Faculty will be seated alongside students providing their support and celebrating an important milestone in teacher preparation. The party sitting on the platform includes four academic deans. This party includes Director Benjamin Forsyth, the Director of Educator Preparation, Keynote Speaker, UNI Alum, and current Charles City Community Schools District Superintendent, Mike Fisher, MC Dr. Catherine Miller, the Educator Preparation Faculty Chairperson, and Director of the Iowa Department of Education, Dr. Ann Lebo. 

Students participate in the “walk of recognition” and receive a pin paired with a card stating a pledge about being a teacher inductee. Forsyth said, “Every student will receive a pin that’s been used the last 25 or so years. It was originally designed by a student, so it connects multiple generations of alumni from the Teacher Education Program.” 

All students will be asked to put on their pins and recite a pledge to symbolize their achievement and the beginning process of becoming an educator. 

Forsyth believes holding a celebratory event in honor of students in the Teacher Educations makes students feel seen and heard. He recognizes the hardships the pandemic has created for everyone, especially teachers. 

Forsyth stated, “There is a lot of press right now about how there are fewer teachers coming into the profession, but at UNI, we haven’t felt those effects the way other places have because we are a premier place to become a teacher. We want to remind not only the candidates, but also the guests in attendance that UNI has not gone away. We are still a powerhouse when it comes to preparing teachers, and we do it well.”