The primary purpose of this communication is to put forth a major expression of appreciation to the educators in the region.
I am retiring after 43 years of service to the education division of Pitt-Johnstown. The division’s teacher education program graduated its first class in 1970. Since then, much of its strong success can be significantly attributed to the teachers, principals, superintendents and school boards who have allowed our education students in their classrooms through various programs in order to acquire a firsthand experience with students.
The invaluable and rich experience that our students have gained working with the students and school personnel has produced thousands of dedicated, capable and highly competent educators.
The education division has been extremely fortunate to have the continued support and helpful guidance from those educational professionals who were quite instrumental in creating quality educators. Many students who matriculated through our program have become outstanding teachers in this region; and throughout the state and nation.
Some of those individuals, after gaining classroom teaching experience, have gone on to become very effective leaders as principals and superintendents. It has been a pleasure for me to have had a meaningful friendship with the preceding individuals, especially the classroom teachers.
The future of teacher training at UPJ presently faces many challenges. Unfortunately, the future job market for newly graduated teachers is not positive. The nation’s economic recession has caused havoc on the state’s education budget, which naturally affects the budgets of public school districts. Thus, school districts have been forced to reduce their teaching staffs.
Presently, there is also a huge backlog of able, certified teachers hoping to find positions in the teaching profession.
The enrollment and success of the UPJ education program depends on the ability of the division to attract students; and to maintain quality programs that provide the students with a diverse and high quality education.
I have some concerns of the present direction of the program. Hopefully, the experienced faculty members will voice their views in order to maintain the past high quality of the program.
It is essential for UPJ to continue to be a major producer of quality teachers.
In conclusion, I want to sincerely thank all of my former students and the current and retired educators in the region who have enabled me to have a very satisfying and rewarding career at UPJ.
Robert W. Zellers is an associate professor in the Education Division at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. He has bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in education and has more than 30 years of experience in various positions within the field of education.