For six years, Peter Vietgen has kept a sealed box filled with cue cards under his desk.
On each small piece of paper contained within was a handwritten note from students embarking on their journey to become the next generation of teachers.
It was in 2015, after delivering the keynote welcome address at an orientation session that Vietgen, an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education, invited students to write down their reasons for becoming teachers.
The cards — 214 to be exact — recently made their way back into the hands of their rightful owners — Brock’s newest Concurrent Teacher Education graduates.
The Class of 2021 is the first to graduate from the six-year Concurrent Teacher Education program since initial teacher education programs were expanded from one year to two by the Government of Ontario in 2015.
Vietgen promised students they would get their cards back when they graduated in 2021 — and he did not disappoint. COVID-19 restrictions meant hand-delivery was not possible, so a team of Faculty of Education staff mailed the cards to the students, who graduated during Brock’s Virtual Spring Convocation on June 18.
Nabiha Sabree feels as though her path hasn’t wavered since she wrote her note so many years ago.
“Why do I want to become a teacher?” she questioned on the card. “Because the transformational teacher within is just waiting to help change students’ lives for the better — not just academically, but in as many other ways as I possibly can to help them grow and be a successful individual.”
Sabree chose a career in teaching because she loves helping others and wants to inspire her students to reach their full potential.
“I wrote that during the orientation because I knew this profession has so much purpose and I knew it was meant to be mine to pursue,” she said. “I would most definitely write that note again today.”
Her journey was not without challenges. In her fourth year, Sabree missed a month of classes while recovering from a concussion as well missing several weeks due to another illness.
Even when it seemed impossible for her to keep up with her classes, Sabree kept working toward her dream of becoming a teacher.
“During my time at Brock I faced so many obstacles,” she said, “but I always overcame each and every one of them.”
Kirstin Dreise has also long dreamed of becoming a teacher.
“As a young child, I looked up to my teachers and always wanted to be a teacher just like them,” she said, recalling how she would play school with her sisters on snow days and write math worksheets for them to complete. “The desire to be a math teacher has stayed with me since then, but the reasoning has developed over time.”
During her time at Brock, Dreise enjoyed learning to code and how to apply that knowledge in teaching. She wants to help change the focus of math education more toward learning transferable math skills and helping students to understand how to use math in the world, including technology integration.
She looks forward to continuing to share her passion for math as a teacher and helping to dispel some of the anxiety that is so prevalent around math.
On her card, Dreise wrote a quote that she once heard that stuck with her: “Teaching is the profession that creates all other professions.”
“I still think it’s true,” she said. “I still hope I can inspire some students for future careers, but I also want to be a teacher to encourage students to become their best selves and support them on their way.”
Julian Hassan Mroue shares a similar passion for inspiring others. He pursued a career in teaching because, outside of his family, all of the people he looked up to were teachers.
On his card, he wrote: “I want to be a teacher because finding and nurturing a spark in a child is the most rewarding thing one can do. I want to do that every day.”
Being able to complete an undergraduate degree in Child and Youth Studies as part of the Concurrent Teacher Education program allowed Mroue to develop an overall understanding of the whole child.
“I still love nurturing a spark in students,” he said while reflecting on his words from 2015.
His students in his final practicum placement, for example, were all eager to show him their home gardens and surviving bean plants over Zoom after the class completed a Plants and Growth science unit.
Mroue, like many teacher candidates, completed online practicum placements during the pandemic.