Avila Now

February 15, 2022

Q&A: Brett Beneke MA.Ed ’19

Headshot of Brett Beneke

Brett Beneke completed his teaching certification in Secondary Education at Avila and returned a few years later to earn his Master of Arts in Education in 2019. Brett said, “One of my undergraduate professors at KU raved about Avila’s approach to taking people with existing degrees and getting them classroom-ready.” Upon earning his certification, he was hired to teach English at Raymore-Peculiar High School, where he still teaches today. Beneke also serves on the Avila University Alumni Board. 

Why was Avila and their master’s program the right fit for you?

Avila was the perfect fit for me as I made the transition from having jobs to having a career. While the big university experience was great for my undergrad, I knew I really wanted a smaller environment with a sharp focus on moving from where I was to where I wanted to be. Certification and master’s programs require so much more individual ownership of what a person is studying, and Avila created the conditions that allowed me to explore what I was interested in without getting completely lost in the shuffle of a giant department.

How did Avila prepare you for your career?

Avila’s commitment to getting prospective teachers into the classroom early in the process was absolutely critical to my development. There’s a lazy joke about how learning something, in theory, is no replacement for actually doing something, but Avila’s practicum and mentoring programs make it clear that the university knows that both are indispensable to getting a real and valuable understanding of whatever it is you want to do with your life.

What professional goals do you have in the future? How has your Avila education prepared you to pursue those?

My professional goals boil down to the desire to be in a constant state of learning and improvement. There’s no way to “end” your education, even when you aren’t in a classroom anymore, and Avila–with or without classes to attend–has been a constant presence in the past decade for me. Whether it was taking classes or participating in the research trip to Rwanda through the university in 2017, Avila has helped me stay sharp and in a position to take on new opportunities and adventures as they pop up.

Who at Avila (faculty or staff) did you form good relationships with during your studies? How did they assist you?

In my first go-round, Dr. Geer was especially memorable. His balance of a warm demeanor and an icy knowledge was inspiring. 

When I returned for my MA, Dr. McCalley was exactly the person I needed to refresh and reset after the initial years of teaching. She was an absolute fountain of information and kindness–both of which were indispensable as my final classes came to a close in the chaos of the first COVID shutdowns in March of 2020.

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