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‘Teaching is the Backbone of Humanity:’ Gen Z on the Teaching Profession

On Monday, Sept. 18, NC State’s College of Education and The News & Observer hosted a panel discussion called Gen Z on the Teaching Profession in the Talley Student Union on NC State’s campus. The panelists included five first-year students in the College of Education: Kaiya Connor, Dariana De Leon, Olivia Ferlito, Joshua Webb and Coley Welch.

They shared why they want to become teachers, the challenges they face, the kinds of support they need, the type of teacher they envision they’ll be and their ideas for how we can encourage more young people to consider a career in teaching.

Some of the things they said:

  • “Nothing compares to teaching and the excitement of helping students to learn and to grow.”
  • “Teaching is the backbone of humanity.”
  • “Teaching makes all other professions possible.”
  • “Public school educators are saving the lives of students.”
  • “We need teachers in the classroom who look like me.”

Other speakers included Jill Camnitz, a member of the State Board of Education; Valerie Bridges ’02MSA, ’10EDD, the 2022 North Carolina Superintendent of the Year and the recently retired former superintendent of Edgecombe County Public Schools; and Terry Hennings ’15MAT, the 2023 Wake County Public School System Teacher of the Year and a history teacher at Garner Magnet High School. 

“What I wanted you to hear the most tonight is how brave [the future teachers] are, how bold they are, how determined they are, how positive and upbeat they are, how knowledgeable they are and their concern with equity and diversity,” Bridges said in her closing remarks. “This is the future; they get to make the next moves in education and I’m excited. I hope you all are excited as well.”

Standing ovation for future teachers