NCTE Student Organization Wins Fifth Straight National Excellence Award

The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) student organization at MSU has earned the NCTE Student Affiliate Excellence Award for the fifth year in a row. This MSU group, which is affiliated with the Department of English and the Department of Teacher Education, is one of two NCTE student organizations from across the country to receive the award this year, which recognizes student groups that meet the NCTE’s qualifications of excellence and show commitment to their development as English teachers. 

Students involved with NCTE at MSU cite their passion for English education as one of the driving factors behind their impressive growth and achievements over the past five years. 

A picture of the 2021 Student Affiliate Excellence Award presented to NCTE at Michigan State Univeristy
The 2021 Student Affiliate Excellence Award presented to MSU’s NCTE student organization.

“I think what makes our group such a success is our commitment to the organization. We have such a passion for English education and have a strong desire to learn as much as we can,” said the group’s Vice President, Eduardo Diaz, who is a junior English major and who joined the group this semester. “We understand the importance of a good education in the modern classroom.”

This passion is most evident in the group’s efforts to expand its signature event, the Teacher Speaker series where influential educators and teachers are invited to talk about their teaching practices. The discussions are focused on important, timely topics, such as teaching in the pandemic or anti-racist teaching. 

I am beyond proud of our members for working tirelessly, year after year, to make our dreams a reality…These awards speak to our resilience and persistence, and it is this conviction that will make us stellar educators.

Maria Manolias, President of MSU’s NCTE student organization

“It has been a great way to generate ideas for our own classroom and to see that we actually can make it as teachers,” said the group’s President, Maria Manolias, who is a senior English major. “I think it’s also a main reason for our success: the events speak to our ability to come together to make something amazing, even during a pandemic year or in the midst of Black Lives Matter.”

Manolias joined the group as a freshman. As president, she works closely with Associate Professor Emery Petchauer, who is the group’s faculty advisor, and Vice Presidents Eduardo Diaz and Katy Anderson. Manolias also collaborates with the Michigan Council of Teachers of English (MCTE) and other in-service education professionals.

“I am beyond proud of our members for working tirelessly, year after year, to make our dreams a reality,” Manolias said. “I know this club is a big-time commitment and much of what we do takes hard work. These awards speak to our resilience and persistence, and it is this conviction that will make us stellar educators.”

A screenshot of a NCTE at Michigan State University meeting held through Zoom.
Members of MSU’s NCTE student organization holding a meeting over Zoom.

The Teacher Speaker series also presents students with different perspectives on what it means to be an educator and encourages them to become better teachers, readers, and people. The events create connections with people outside of the club interested in the fields of English or education. Each event requires an immense amount of work, planning, and time to pull off. 

“The group has become more ambitious in their dreams and desires,” Petchauer said. “Five years ago, they thought it was a big deal to invite one teacher to campus to speak. And it was. But now, they are executing a multi-part speaker series with national experts, writers, and educators. They are writing and winning grants. They are doing creative activities together. And the explicit focus on educational justice has also sharpened over the years.”

Although the awards serve as tangible proof of the group’s dedication to English education, the group also is proud of their development and growth as individuals.

The Student Affiliate Excellence Award is absolutely great and means a lot because it demonstrates the hard work we put into running NCTE has not gone unnoticed.

Katy Anderson, Vice President of MSU’s NCTE student organization

“The Student Affiliate Excellence Award is absolutely great and means a lot because it demonstrates the hard work we put into running NCTE has not gone unnoticed,” said Anderson, who is a junior English major. “However, regardless of the award, I am immensely proud of the club as a whole for working so hard to educate themselves and others on how to be the best teachers they can be.”

Manolias echoed this sentiment: “NCTE at MSU has given me the confidence to go after my dreams. I have found myself through this club. I have learned what my voice is and how I want to use it because of the connections the club provides us with, both from teacher speakers and current members. As a senior this year getting ready to graduate, I look to NCTE as the main reason for my growth, both as a professional and a person.”

The Teacher Speaker series theme this year is “Teach Peace: Joy and Justice in the Classroom.” Recently, the group hosted Dr. Matthew E. Henry, an award-winning author of three books of poetry and an educator across high school, college, and graduate levels. NCTE at MSU will present three more speakers this year. More information regarding these upcoming events can be found @msuenged on Instagram and @SpartanEngEd on Twitter.

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