At inaugural Ed Rising conference MEA partners to inspire next generation

A photo of Governor Gretchen Whitmer smiling with a group of young educators
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer met a group of aspiring and early career educators before her remarks at the inaugural Educators Rising Conference at Wayne State University on March 13.

“Thinking about the teacher who inspired you… it will be your responsibility to be that teacher for a student you work with. You get to inspire future generations. You get to be the reason why Michigan students love learning.”

That was Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s message to more than 400 aspiring educators attending the first-annual Educators Rising Conference at Wayne State University on March 13. From middle and high schoolers interested in the profession to college students preparing to enter a classroom, future educators got inspired.

Whitmer talked about the rewarding work of educators making a difference in students’ lives – sharing how her second-grade teacher, Mrs. Buie, helped her through her a tough time during her parents’ divorce.

“We want Michigan students and educators to have the path into this important profession. We want Michigan kids to be life-long learners. None of that is possible without a great group of people going into education. You’ll all play a part in helping every student discover their potential.

A photo of Gov. Whitmer chatting with a group of high school students interested in careers in education.
Prior to her remarks at the conference, Gov. Whitmer chats with a group of high school students interested in careers in education.

“That’s why my partners in the Michigan Legislature and I are committed to supporting our students, teachers, and schools every step of the way.”

Celebrating that commitment – from record investments in public education to educator recruitment policies and supports – was a recurring theme. MEA President Chandra Madafferi and Denise Taliaferro Baszile, dean of Wayne State University’s College of Education, echoed praise and enthusiasm for students attending the event, created through a partnership between Educators Rising, MEA and WSU.

Madafferi shared her story as a college education student who shifted focus from elementary to career tech to special education over her time at Central Michigan University.

“Right now, you might think you know what you want to do, but there are so many opportunities to try things in the education profession,” Madafferi said.  “Teaching is a very diverse profession. If you are here, that means you have a spark of interest – don’t give up and continue to explore.”

Students at the conference learned through informative sessions, engaged in competitions to showcase their presentation and teaching skills, and enjoyed campus tours and networking opportunities.

One of those students, Makayla Nieman from the Lenawee ISD Tech Center, was excited to be part of it. “It’s so cool to see all these people so motivated and going towards the same goals as me,” Nieman said. “It helps me to know I’m not alone in wanting to become an educator.”


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