Julia O'Sullivan, Dean of the Faculty of Education, welcomed 750 incoming teacher candidates on Thursday.
Greeting them in both English and French, Dean Julia said, “You are all here because you want to make difference in the lives of children and young people – you can and you will and you’ve come to the right place. This is the best teacher education program in Canada.”
The Dean went on to say that the Faculty knows that teaching is the most important profession on the face of the earth, adding that there has never been a time in history when the world has needed great teachers more than it does today, in fact, by 2015, the world will need 18 million teachers to ensure universal primary education.
Acknowledging that although Canada’s education system is progressing well, she pointed out that thirty per cent of students are entering high school without sufficient proficiency in reading and writing to support school success. Twenty to twenty five per cent do not graduate high school; more than one third of 16-25 year olds in Canada lack sufficient reading and writing proficiency to function in a modern world.
“That's not good enough,” she said, “Not anywhere, especially in a country as great as Canada. Our Faculty’s mission to raise the bar and close the gaps for all people and now you are part of our mission – creating opportunities for young people and their communities – in and through education.
“We know you can do it because we chose you from almost 4,000 applicants. You represent the best and the brightest this country has to offer and we believe that you have what it takes – the knowledge, the creativity and especially the courage that distinguishes a Western teacher.”
Dean Julia closed with a rallying cry for the Faculty. “A year from now you’ll be out there setting the world on fire and they will ask you where you’ve come from. You will tell them, ‘I come from Canada’s foremost faculty of education.’ And where is that?” “Western!” was the enthusiastic and roaring response. “Western! Western! Western!”