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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Marian University welcomed a new class of aspiring teachers Saturday afternoon with a signing ceremony.

Incoming freshmen inked proclamations, also signed by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb and Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick, formally declaring their intent to pursue careers in education.

Faculty, staff and family members cheered as photographers captured the symbolic moment, reminiscent of student-athlete commitment ceremonies.

“It made me feel incredibly important and amazing,” said Max Horrigan, one of the new students enrolling at the university’s Klipsch Educators College. “It’s normally the sports signings that get televised and shown everywhere.”

He recalled a former teacher of his own – an 8th grade science instructor – who sparked his interest in education.

Fellow incoming freshman DeChelle Turner also cited middle and high school teachers as her inspiration, saying they “pushed [her] forward” and encouraged her dream of working in education policy.

The teacher signing ceremony at Marian University is the first event of its kind in the nation, according to Dr. Kenith Britt, dean of the Klipsch Educators College.

“Is there a profession that has more of an impact than education?” he asked the aspiring teachers and their families. “We need to do more for educators and more for people who want to go into education.”

Recruiting compassionate candidates who will pride themselves on teaching students of any background is at the heart of Britt’s values-focused plan for revamping teacher training, he explained. He said administrators are also focused on preparing K-12 teachers who have a thorough understanding of the curriculum they teach, as well as hands-on classroom experience.

“They need to know what they’re teaching and how to teach it,” Britt told 24-Hour News 8.

The university offers a five-year teacher training program that includes a year-long paid teaching and mentoring residency. Students will earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in education upon completion.

Marian University President Daniel Elsener applauded incoming Klipsch students for following in his footsteps and choosing a career in education, dubbing them “angels” and “nation builders.”

“They teach people more than just multiplication tables,” he said. “They teach people about themselves and their nobility and their value in the world. They’re actually teaching how to be a good citizen [and] a good human being.”