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Future educators honored in annual recognition ceremony

Campus Life May 2, 2024
A group photo in the courtyard
More pictures from the recognition ceremony here

KOKOMO, Ind. — Thirty-six future educators were welcomed to the profession during the Indiana University Kokomo School of Education’s annual recognition ceremony Wednesday in Havens Auditorium.

Dylan Weaver, earning his bachelor’s degree in secondary education and political science, called the night an “excellent feeling.”

“All of the hard work we’ve put in over the past four years has really come to a head,” he said. “I think that they (School of Education) put us in situations and gave us opportunities that prepare us for the real world.”

Alyson Davis Williams, who previously received her bachelor’s degree in fine arts, was recognized as a part of the School of Education’s Transition to Teaching program, which helps those who have already earned their bachelor’s degree make the move into working in education.

“I knew that I wanted to do teaching all along, but I did it the hard way,” Davis Williams said. What inspired her, she added, were her past teachers. “Seeing the fun, new things they were doing with their students inspired me to become a teacher myself.”

In his address, Scott Jones, executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, welcomed students and their guests, and told stories of his mother, a retired first grade teacher, who is still greeted in public by her former students.

“These are not her stories or my stories,” he said. “These are stories that will be about you. These are the same sort of experiences and differences you can make in people’s lives.”

Christopher Darr, interim dean of the School of Education echoed Jones, adding “You are entering a special profession.

“The point of education is to change lives by empowering young people,” Darr said. “There can be nothing nobler.”

Tara Cocanower, Indiana’s 2023 Teacher of the Year, and a teacher at Bluffton High School, encouraged graduates to make their own definition of a great teacher.

“I think the world thinks that they understand what we do, what we’re about, what teachers are capable of, but they have no idea,” Cocanower said. “If you think about what makes a great teacher, it’s whatever you want it to be. You can create that narrative.”

The School of Education also recognized senior Clarissa Vasquez for her exemplary achievements, naming her the Outstanding Student in Elementary Education.

In her speech, Vasquez called on her fellow graduates to “carry a light of knowledge and kindness” into their classrooms.

“Teaching is not merely imparting knowledge, but about molding futures,” she said. “We hold so much power for change. Embrace the challenges, celebrate each victory, and continue to inspire curiosity and a love of learning in your students.”

Honorees are listed by degree and hometown. They include:

Elementary education and early childhood:

Bunker Hill: Alyssa Maston

Flora: Gabrielle Fewell

Frankfort: Nalley Alanis

Kokomo: Joel Barnes, Stephanie Edwards, Shanelle Majors

Lafayette: Yoselin Cuatlati Tepehua

Logansport: Addison Brown

Peru: Grace Tubb

Russiaville: Kayla Droesch

Sheridan: McKaylie Kinkead

Swayzee: Jennifer Dowling

Winimac: Shailyn Day

Elementary education and special education:

Columbia City: Annamarie Yager

Jonesboro: Ellie Alcala

Lafayette: Cassie Dispennett

Noblesville: Mackenzie Pedigo

Peru: Mackinsey Wentz, Gwendolyn Werner

Sharpsville: Kylee Fernung

Westfield: Brooke Lawrence

Elementary education and psychology:

Greentown: Aliya Barends, Clarissa Vasquez

Kokomo: Mariah Dugger, Abigail Williams

Logansport: Erika Serna

Marion: Christopher Weaver

Peru: Sydney Berry

Rochester: Kennedy Musselman

Secondary education and social studies:

Kokomo: Hannah Sandefur

Rochester: Dylan Weaver

Secondary education and English:

Logansport: Lesley Alcala

Secondary education and visual arts:

Noblesville: Coby Woodring

Peru: Medora Ulerick

Sharpsville: Parker Sayers

Transition to Teaching:

Kokomo: Alyson Davis Williams

Indiana Association of Colleges for Teacher Education Outstanding Future Educator award:

Brooke Lawrence, Parker Sayers, Coby Woodring

School of Education Outstanding Elementary Education Student:

Clarissa Vasquez

School of Education Outstanding Secondary Education Student:

Noe Dominquez

Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo.

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