Olivia Brammer always wanted to be a teacher, a profession she thought most people wouldn’t encourage her to choose because it is considered less prestigious than becoming a doctor or an engineer.
Brammer and 13 seniors from Burnsville High School got a special treat Wednesday for promising to be future teachers and attending colleges to earn their teaching degrees. All of them were saluted in front of friends, family and teachers at the Signing Day ceremony, a practice that until now was organized only for students who compete in college athletic clubs.
“People somehow do not want you to be a teacher. Maybe because they think it is not a lucrative profession,” said Brammer, who would be the first teacher in her family. “But I always wanted to be one because I wanted to be able to impact the lives of people just like our teachers did.”
She plans to study special education at Augsburg University after graduating from Burnsville in a couple of weeks. The seniors received “Letters of Intent,” which they signed Wednesday.
“After today’s event, I feel I am not the only one who wants to be a teacher. I love it!” Brammer said.
The ceremony honoring future educators is billed to be just the second of its kind in Minnesota. Earlier this month, five would-be teachers were honored at Maple Lake High School in Maple Lake, Minn.
The brief yet significant function in Burnsville saw the seniors beaming with joy and confidence. Tables were set up for them, with name cards for each student that also included the name of the college they would attend after graduation. There were apples and juice, too, placed on a table that had a small sign congratulating them for their career choice.
“Money would be my last concern. There can be other ways to earn money, but there are fewer ways to help the future generations,” said Jackson Morris, who will study music at Normandale Community College in Bloomington. He said he was inspired to become a teacher by his sister, who is also a teacher.
The Signing Day for future teachers concept was introduced in Burnsville a month ago by English teacher Allison Millea. She learned about a similar event, organized last year in Iowa, from her father, John Millea, who works for the Minnesota State High School League. Social studies teacher David McDevitt and another English teacher, Hayley Ohama, helped her to put together the ceremony.
On May 2, eight future teachers signed “Letters of Intent” at the Future Educators Day organized at Norwalk High School in Iowa. The idea was proposed by D.T. Magee, the superintendent of the Norwalk school district. Associated with public education system since 1992, Magee said he wanted to do something about the shortage of teachers.
“The ceremony was a step toward the goal of flipping some negativity directed at the teaching profession,” he said. This year the ceremony will be held in Iowa in June.
Back at the Burnsville ceremony, Allison Millea had a message for the future teachers from her district: Teaching isn’t easy, but it is most worthwhile.
The Signing Day idea has been received well at Burnsville, and the administration plans to make it a regular thing now.
In the letters, students vowed they would pursue a career in education, a goal they took seriously, and that they would do everything in their power to learn to best provide for their future students.
“I want to teach future generations in order to foster strong communities, encourage academic motivation, and provide a safe space for all students,” the certificate read.
“The goal is to encourage more students to opt for teaching as a career choice,” Burnsville High School Principal Dave Handy said. The school is, in fact, starting two college-credit courses next year for students interested in teaching in partnership with Normandale Community College.
The event ended on a high note — with photo sessions, applause, high-fives and hugs.
Gulam Jeelani • 612-673-4280