UMaine celebrates future teachers with inaugural pinning ceremony

Like many states, Maine struggles with teacher shortages. At the same time, fewer college students nationwide are choosing to major in education.

Despite these trends, the University of Maine College of Education and Human Development — the state’s largest educator preparation and training program — has largely maintained its enrollment numbers in recent years. On Friday, the college celebrated those students who have chosen teaching as a career with its first ever pinning ceremony.

“Teachers transform individuals, schools, organizations and communities for the better. I can think of no more noble aspiration, nor can I recall a time that your commitment to the teaching profession has been more needed,” said Penny Bishop, dean of the College of Education and Human Development, in her remarks. 

A photo of a student receiving their pinDuring the ceremony, students who have recently achieved teacher candidacy received a pin in the shape of an apple with the UMaine “M” logo and the word “Education” on it. Teacher candidates are those who have reached the point in their academic career — usually during their sophomore or junior year — when they are able to start taking upper-level courses and have shown a commitment to becoming a teacher. 

Pinning ceremonies to recognize and celebrate people who have chosen a particular career or field are not new. For example, the UMaine School of Nursing has held a pinning ceremony for graduating nurses for several years.

“Teaching is one of the few fields where students typically do not have paid internships,” Bishop noted. “Giving our students a pin is not going to solve that issue. But we want to acknowledge the hard work and dedication that goes into becoming a teacher.”

She added that UMaine and other teacher preparation programs throughout the state are working on projects, such as pathway programs and teacher residency initiatives, to help education students find paid work while they’re in school.

“The hope is that, cumulatively, these efforts will help address teacher shortages and other challenges facing K-12 education in Maine schools and communities,” she said.

Other speakers at the ceremony included Rep. Holly Sargent, a member of the Legislature’s Education and Cultural Affairs Committee, and UMaine alumnus Jon Doty, assistant superintendent of RSU 34, the school district for Old Town, Alton and Bradley. Doty was presented the inaugural Robert A. Cobb Award for Extraordinary Service to the College of Education and Human Development, named for the former dean of the college from 1977 to 2007. 

You can read about  two of the teacher candidates recognized at the ceremony online.

The University of Maine System is the state’s largest producer of classroom-ready teachers, having awarded nearly 4,000 education degrees or certificates in the past five years. Seven of the past 10 Maine Teachers of the Year are proud System graduates, including UMaine graduates Kelsey Stoyanova (2022), Cindy Soule (2021), Kaitlyn Young (2018) and Tamara Ranger (2017).

Contact: Casey Kelly,