When the MTSU College of Education committee that partners with local school districts brainstormed with Rutherford County and Murfreesboro City Schools on ways to give back and support the teachers who help mentor the college’s future educators, they decided on a very public, party-styled thank you.
After months of planning and preparation, about 70 local teachers arrived on campus recently to enjoy the college’s inaugural Teacher Appreciation event.
“Teachers really need our support right now,” said Pam Ertel, event committee member and an associate professor of education. “We would not be able to effectively prepare our teacher candidate students without these mentor teachers or the local district support, so a party was the best step we could take at this point to celebrate and honor them.”
“We wanted it to be casual and fun,” added Shannon Harmon, another committee member and education professor. “It was an opportunity for these educators to relax, mingle and feel special.”
The event committee also included professors Heather Dillard and Amber Matuszewski. The Sept. 27 event was funded in partnership with the MTSU president’s, provost’s and education dean’s offices, along with the college’s Department of Elementary and Special Education and the Womack Department of Educational Leadership.
“To be appreciated at an event like this just really shows that they know and trust us, and they know that we are preparing the student candidates for the future,” said Kelsey Rone, a fourth grade teacher at Hobgood Elementary in Murfreesboro and an MTSU alumna who has mentored COE student teachers for six years.
“Being honored by my former professors like Dr. Harmon, seeing that we are doing the work, that I’m continuing the legacy as an MTSU alum from the College of Education, has been very special.”
Staff decked out the Tennessee Ballroom in the James Union Building with colorful lights, tables adorned in True Blue tablecloths and topped with inspirational quotes, a photo booth, a display of MTSU-themed blankets and cookies for attendees to take home, two tables full of giveaway items, two more tables laden with food and drink and a stage complete with big, blue star lights courtesy of Ertel’s personal holiday décor collection.
A video showcasing the festivities is available below.
In between enjoying refreshments and conversations with fellow educators, attendees were treated to an appearance by university mascot Lightning, remarks and recognition from university leadership for their hard work, multiple drawings for prizes donated by COE staff and surprise videos of praise from country entertainer Chris Young, a former MTSU student, and Zac Brown Band guitarist Coy Bowles.
Melissa Flowers, a kindergarten teacher at Murfreesboro’s Homer Pittard Campus School and another MTSU alumna, said it felt “phenomenal to be celebrated and appreciated by her alma mater.
“It’s not every day that teachers get this kind of event just for being a teacher and doing what we do,” Flowers said, adding that a highlight was learning the COE has been recognized with multiple awards on a national level.
“That was really cool to know that we’re part of that,” Flowers said.
— Stephanie Wagner (Stephanie.Wagner@mtsu.edu)