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Avila professor headed for National Teachers Hall of Fame

May 27, 2014

Jan AldersonJan Alderson, an adjunct professor at Avila University, teaches special methods biology. She also teaches full-time as an honors biology teacher at Shawnee Mission South.

On June 13, Alderson became the latest inductee into the National Teachers Hall of Fame in Emporia, Kan.

“It takes an education community to allow a teacher to reach his or her full potential,” Alderson said. “With the support of the public and private sectors, an educator will more likely reach excellence in teaching.  Every student, colleague, parent and community connection who was a part of my science programs owns a part of the NTHF award.” 

Over the last 45 years, Alderson has touched the lives of thousands of students and put more into the teaching process than just her time. The characteristics she finds in teachers are a love of learning, a desire to make a difference and a good sense of humor. Because of their passion, most teachers tend to put nearly $2000 of their own money into their classrooms every year to make up for budget cuts. Alderson’s love and passion for her students and their learning is no different.

“I love the creative process,” she said. “There is nothing more exciting than having a lesson that engages the students…My first and foremost goal is to nurture their interests.”

When it comes to her induction into the National Teacher Hall of Fame, Alderson said the journey started with someone nominating her. She finished an extensive application process that ultimately led to her winning one of the five nationally-acclaimed awards.

When asked what she hopes will come from the honor, she said her biggest wish would be for it to translate into an opportunity to positively affect a student’s education, whether it be at Shawnee Mission South or Avila, where she’s been an adjunct since the fall of 2008.

“I just think Avila is one of the best colleges around,” Alderson said. “They care about the students. You’re not just a number there.”

Winning the award will allow Alderson the chance to meet President Barack Obama and Arne Dunkey, U.S. Secretary of Education, after her induction ceremony. She hopes this will be the first step toward more progress with science and bio-literacy in our community.

Alderson’s perspective on teaching is truly inspirational, as evidenced by her receiving this high honor. What’s more, her outlook for an even bright future is shown through her words and, more importantly, through the incredibly positive effects she has had on her students.


About Avila University
Avila University is a private, co-educational, values-based liberal arts institution founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet, offering undergraduate, graduate, and adult degree programs. Avila University is located at 119th and Wornall Rd in southwest suburban Kansas City, Mo.