Thursday, Seton Hill University (SHU) co-hosted, along with along with the Pittsburg Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC), the 2016 Student Affiliate Dinner.
“We celebrate tonight future and current educators,” said Mary Finger, president of Seton Hill University during her welcoming speech. President Finger attended the event along with other administration from SHU, including Sister Maureen O’Brien, who led everyone in prayer.
Each year, coordinators of the event invite a special guest to give a keynote address. This year, SHU brought in Stacey Bess, an educator, author and motivational speaker. She is well known for her inspiration to the Hallmark movie, “Beyond the Blackboard.”
The movie is based off of Bess’s inspiring story of how she became a teacher in a school for homeless children in Salt Lake City.
“My goal for tonight as you walk out of the door is to know that this lady tells the truth,” said Bess in regards to herself as she began her speech.
The rest of her speech unfolded as she told the story of how she began her teaching career at The School with No Name. Here, Bess taught homeless students from kindergarten through sixth grade. However, Bess would say her students taught her more than she taught them.
Bess’s biggest message to the current and future educators who attended the dinner, was that the best thing you can do for a child is show them you care. She received a standing ovation from students, professors and other attendees as she thanked everyone for brining her to the dinner. “Thank you for being so excited to have me,” she concluded.
Bonnie Ordonez, chairperson of the division of education, took the podium to thank everyone who had a part in the dinner and the education program at SHU. A special thank you was given to Kathleen Harris, associate professor of education at SHU, for her enthusiasm to the education of her students.
“Thank you for joining our mission and advocating for children everywhere,” Harris said after receiving a warm round of applause.
PAEYC’s mission is to provide “professional development, community resources and advocacy for the needs and rights of children, their families and the individuals who work with them.”
The initiative to create an event that honor those who dedicate their lives to this mission began in 2011 with Westmoreland County Community College serving as co-host.
Since then, colleges and universities in Westmoreland County have taken turns co-hosting the event. This year’s event marked the 6th annual dinner and SHU’s second time co-hosting the event.
“I look forward to the event every year,” said Adele Nolfi-Pine, graduate student at SHU who helped to coordinate the 2012 dinner. “I was really excited to hear that Stacey Bess would be hear,” she said, being a fan of Bess’s work and novel.