Student News

State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison addresses students initiated into Kappa Delta Pi

“As difficult as teaching sometimes becomes, always remember that you are making a major impact on children. Don’t underestimate the influence that you as a teacher will have on young people.”

This is the message that North Carolina State Board of Education Chairman Bill Harrison gave the 18 new initiates of the UNC-Chapel Hill’s Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education, who are preparing to become teachers.

Reflecting on his 35 years in education as a teacher, principal, superintendent and now a policymaker, Harrison told the students and their families, gathered at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill on April 7, that what has meant the most to him is the opportunity to work directly with children in the classroom.

Harrison recalled that when he was named the State Board chair, one of his former special needs students called to say that he was proud of Harrison. “That’s what it’s all about,” Harrison said.

Although the nature of a teacher’s work has changed dramatically over the years and will continue to evolve, Harrison told the initiates, “It all comes down to a competent, caring teacher working with children.” He emphasized the importance of keeping children engaged.

He described the characteristics of a classroom that causes children to want to come to school. It is a safe environment where the children feel cared for, he said. The work is meaningful and engaging while also rigorous and challenging. All the children have the opportunity to be successful – the teacher has high expectations for all children, the lessons are organized around specific objectives and the children receive immediate and specific feedback about how they’re doing.

“Teaching is a phenomenal opportunity for you,” Harrison concluded. “It’s a great time to be an educator.”

The new initiates also were greeted by Bill McDiarmid, dean of the UNC-Chapel Hill School of Education, and Mark Kleinschmidt, an alumnus of the School of Education, a former high school social studies teacher and now the mayor of Chapel Hill.

McDiarmid noted that the Greek letters, Kappa Delta Pi, represent three concepts that are basic to teaching – knowledge of the subject matter, the duty to make the world a better place and the power to influence children and the world. “Education is about helping all children who come to us reach their potential – every single one,” he said. “Go out and be the best educator you can be.”

Kleinschmidt challenged the students to hold onto the core values that drove them to education and to excellence. “We need great educators and also great leaders in education who will guide their colleagues in adapting to a changing environment,” he said. “The responsibility is now yours to provide that leadership. Also as a citizen, you need to carry your vision out of the classroom and into the world. I have confidence in you and I look forward to watching you move on in your careers.”

Professor Barbara Day, faculty advisor to the Pi Theta Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, articulated the ideals of the honor society, including the belief that human beings can experience more meaningful lives through education. She reviewed the eligibility criteria for membership in the 90-year-old international organization: a grade point average of 3.4 or higher and a strong record of leadership and service.

The officers assisted Professor Day in leading the group in an initiation ceremony. Each new initiate received a certificate and an honor cord to wear at commencement. Most of the students will graduate on May 9, 2010; a few are juniors who will graduate next year.  

The following officers were named, based on grade point average:

President: Shea Alexander Youell
Vice President: Kristen Marie Wendover
Secretary: Constance Lazakis
Treasurer: Kirsten Diane Edwards
Historian: Lindsey Dvorak

The newly initiated members of Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education are:

Megan Elizabeth Barton
Anna Blonshine
Elizabeth Martin Bridges
Diana Coons
Lauren McNeely Dunning
Lindsey Dvorak
Kirsten Diane Edwards
Alyssa Dawn Hewitt
Constance Lazakis
Anna Kathryn Lilly
Carrie McMillan
Maria Nicole Mitchell
Sydney Lane Pender
Rebekah Jane Stanley
Emily G. Vincent
Kristen Marie Wendover
Kristin Rebecca Wetherby
Shea Alexander Youell