A Reflection on Teaching, Learning and Arcadia: Education Department Launches New Tradition to Honor Graduates

By Sue Gettlin | February 15, 2012

Teaching is a profession of self-reflection. Arcadia’s education programs incorporate self-reflection into many courses, encouraging students to consider how their student teaching and fieldwork experiences influence their professional and personal development.

Building off this theme, the Education Department launched a new ceremony to recognize undergraduates who complete their programs. The inaugural Candlelight Reflection Ceremony was held on December 6, 2011 in the Mirror Room in the Castle for the undergraduate Education students who were slated to graduate in December 2011. Of the 11 undergraduates, Megan Carpenter, Evelyn Ciaburri, Shannon Emery, Alexsandra McIlvaine, Stephanie Thomas and Hajiba Zahour attended.

As guests entered the room, they were serenaded by musical selections on the French Horn by Dr. Peter Applebaum. The ceremony began with remarks by Dr. Leif Gustavson, Education Department Chair, who quoted Goethe and encouraged students to live by the quote: “I try to keep my eyes open all the time, remember as much as I can, and not judge more than I can help.” Education Department faculty members Dr. Kim Dean, Dr. Erica Davila, and Dr. Foram Bhukhanwala offered remarks as well that focused on self-care, lessons they learned in their early days of teaching, and the positive impact a teacher can have on individual students.

Following the remarks, the students were presented with personalized notes written by Education Department faculty for each of them, along with small candle holders. They were also invited to sign a leather-bound book that features calligraphy by art department faculty member Scott Rawlins; the book, in which the Goethe quote is inscribed, lists the names of all undergraduate education students who completed their studies in December. The students added their own reflections on their teaching experience to the book, which will be read by future Education Department graduates. Their comments are full of wisdom for future teachers, whom they urged to “take advantage of every opportunity” and to “do your research, make your connections, and never let go of what you want.”

The students enjoyed the celebration and recognition by the Education Department. Stephanie Thomas commented, “This ceremony is a memory I will hold on to forever. It was truly a celebration of the enormous amount of support that this gathering of students had for each other throughout their years at Arcadia earning their education certifications. Entering the education profession is the most rewarding experience I have had thus far in my life, and Arcadia’s Candlelight Reflection Ceremony will always remain as a highlight in this step of my life.”

“The Candelight Reflection Ceremony is our way of recognizing the extraordinary efforts of our undergraduates to commit to teaching as a profession and a way of life,” Dr. Gustavson remarked. “We plan to build on this first ceremony, so that each successive generation of education graduates makes their mark in the book and on the greater psyche of the department through what we know will be a long-standing tradition.”