Sunny skies and high spirits greeted HGSE’s incoming class on Appian Way today as they gathered for the Dean’s Welcome Remarks and presentations from select faculty members to mark the official start of the fall term.
Once the traditional kick off to students’ time at HGSE, Orientation felt a little different this year since many of the entering cohort have already spent several weeks on campus completing their Foundations courses. Much of the work they have done thus far — both inside and outside the classroom — was highlighted in the opening video, “Look What You’ve Done So Far.”
Dean Bridget Long began her remarks by introducing the students to one another, assuring members of the incoming class that they belong at HGSE — and that the person seated next to them belongs here too. Among the 752 new students, 613 are in the residential master’s program, 89 in the online master’s program, 25 in the Ph.D. Program, and 25 in the Ed.L.D. Program. They come from 51 countries, including China, Nigeria, Poland, Egypt, and Nicaragua, and have been teachers, researchers, policymakers, artists, public servants, and more.
“We represent the entire education ecosystem, and together, that is an impressive force for good,” said Long. “The contributions we can make as individuals — and more importantly, as a community — are considerable and have never been needed more.”
Acknowledging how the field continues to face many challenges as the world emerges from COVID, Long urged the students not to forget the lessons learned over the last several years. And she noted that while the conversations along the way may be difficult, it is essential that we have them together to move toward a brighter future.
“While you are here, be prepared to confront hard truths and difficult topics. Be prepared to be in dialogue with people who will disagree with you. Be prepared to make mistakes and confront your own personal weaknesses,” Long said. “This field of education is not for the faint of heart. You're not only here to learn; you are here to build the strength the world needs from us as educators, and we’re going to help you do that.”
Academic Dean Martin West welcomed the students by encouraging them to get to know each other, get to know the faculty, and stretch beyond their own goals for learning.
“Think beyond whatever expectations that you came here with,” he said. “Risk discovering something new.”
West introduced several faculty members — Professor Ebony Bridwell-Mitchell, Lecturer Timothy McCarthy, Professor Andrew Ho, Associate Professor Sarah Dryden-Peterson, and Senior Lecturer Irvin Scott — who each gave talks on topics such as pandemic recovery to refugee education to how test scores should be used. The talks are intended to give students a taste of what they will be experiencing in their courses in their time at HGSE.
Prior to the faculty presentations, Director of Master’s Programs Tycie Coppett addressed the students, familiarizing them with the abundance of acronyms and initialisms used at HGSE, and introducing one more: COT (Change One Thing). “If you could change one thing in education right now, what would it be?” she said, suggesting several possible answers, from the teacher shortage to school safety.
“I encourage you to focus on that one thing during your time here. Let that be your guiding post; let that be your why,” Coppett said. “Then, when we come together under this tent nine months from now to celebrate your Commencement, we will do so knowing that each of you has a burning flame in your heart to change one thing. And when you leave Appian Way with a heart to change one thing, this is how we change the world.”