Future teachers, educational leaders graduate from Wilkes University

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — More than 200 education majors at a local university are now ready for employment.

They graduated Saturday evening following a pandemic that taught them valuable lessons both in and out of the classroom. Some long years and some tough lessons paved the way for Wilkes University’s Class of 2021 School of Education graduates.

“We taught through computer screens and webcams, or in classrooms with half the students in-person, and half at home. And we taught in socially distanced classrooms with face masks and desk shields. We did all of that while making sure that our students felt included, safe, and hopeful for the future,” graduate Kierstin Parricelli said.

Parricelli recalls the unprecedented experiences she and her fellow Wilkes graduates faced while student teaching during a global pandemic.

“I saw what I have to do to, what extra things I needed to do to help the kids. I thought it was a very good experience and, basically, the people who did it with me, we’re ready for anything now,” graduate Shaylee Miller said.

The soon-to-be teachers were handed their diplomas during a special commencement ceremony, exclusive to the university’s School of Education.

“I extend a warm welcome to everyone, as we celebrate the accomplishments, the patience, and the perseverance of the Class of 2021,” Wilkes University vice president of student affairs Paul Adams said.

Laura Thompson says hybrid learning while student teaching was vital to earning her degree. She taught fifth-graders at Wyoming Valley West School District.

“This is the future and this is going to be what we’re doing now, because I know a lot of students still aren’t comfortable coming back to school,” Thompson said.

Miller learned how to effectively teach kindergarteners at North Schuylkill Elementary School during the mix of virtual and in-person learning. While admitting it wasn’t an easy task, she says she developed a passion for teaching young children.

“I just hope to make an impact for any students that comes my way through my classroom, just to be there for them. And I know even with COVID this is a very tough time with them so it’s very important to be that leader,” Miller said.

Leaders with refined skill sets ready to conquer anything that comes their way next.

“We now emerge from this campus as flexible, dedicated, technology-savvy, teachers,” Parricelli said.

215 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees were awarded from Wilkes University’s School of Education this spring.

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