Senior Salute 2014 - Emily Bermes
“I’m grateful for a liberal arts education that cultivates high academic achievement, but also integrity, compassion, and creativity within its students. When you help students to discover not a career path, but a calling, you mold passionate, driven, inspiring people who will surely do great things.”
Future educator Emily Bermes, of Northbrook, Ill., has always known that she wanted to help students discover their callings.
“When I was in third grade I dressed up as my teacher for career day and she bought me a Diet Coke and let me eat my lunch in the teacher’s lounge with her. Needless to say, it was the best day of my life thus far. After taking two urban education classes with Dr. Yontz, both of which included trips to innovative urban schools in Cleveland and Cincinnati, I began to think more deeply about where I want to teach.”
Following Commencement, Bermes will leverage her early childhood education and special education majors, along with her minor in urban studies, to pursue her calling in the field of urban education.
Recalling sources of inspiration during her time at Wittenberg, Bermes is quick to name Fulton Elementary School in Springfield, where she has spent the past semester student teaching in a Kindergarten class.
“My cooperating teacher is a superior role model, and I look to her as the kind of person and teacher I want to be. Across the hall, a recent Witt grad is teaching first grade. I visit with her in the mornings and try to soak up her energy, creativity, and compassion,” Bermes says.
“Of course, the students are the reason we’re all there. I have 23 little ones who at some point during the semester I started referring to as ‘my kids.’ I think the world of them and am inspired every day by their resilience, potential, and authenticity. There’s a sense of exploration and openness that only a five year old can show you. My kids never cease to make me laugh, smile, and think. They have challenged me and pushed me out of my comfort zone, and I am a better person and educator for having shared a classroom with them. I am so grateful for the strong collaboration between the Wittenberg Education Department and the Springfield City District, which has provided me with so many exceptional real-world learning experiences."
As she reflects on her past four years at Wittenberg, Bermes is proud to be in good company.
“My heart swells with pride when I imagine the impact that my fellow graduates and friends will have on the world. Everyone’s taking a different first step, whether that be pursuing more education, taking a year to serve, or beginning a career, but I know that each grad will have a rippling positive impact wherever they land."
Her message to future students: “I would give anything to be in your shoes! If you are a new member of the Tiger family, know that every day on this campus is a gift; don't waste a minute of it. Meet everyone and do everything. Explore Springfield, build relationships with your professors, and keep an open mind and a positive attitude always.”