School of Education
Avila's School of Education Programs are nationally accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. The programs provide quality education from nearly a century of tradition. Students who earn a teaching degree or an international advocacy degree through Avila are now serving with distinction in local, national and global schools, agencies and communities. Join Avila’s tradition in teaching and advocacy excellence and advance your career today!
The School of Education at Avila University is committed to educating innovative, adaptable, and involved professionals, who will provide service to a diverse and ever-changing population. Through value-based learning and authentic experiences, our graduates will be qualified, ethical, and responsible contributors to the greater society.
The guiding philosophy for Avila's School of Education is the worth and potential of all students. We strive to prepare individuals to be caring, competent, and dedicated professional educators, leaders, and advocates who will provide excellent learning opportunities for their own students, mentees and constituents. We embrace the values of Avila University in fostering the intellectual, spiritual, and social growth of its members. Avila University provides an academic community dedicated to education in the liberal arts and professional areas, and it promotes community service and life-long learning.
The School of Education reinforces the University’s mission by preparing learners for teaching and for other people-oriented advocacy professions and careers. School faculty, staff and students strive to become responsible, articulate persons with strong academic preparation, professional competence and dedication to a life of service.
Teacher Education Program Highlights
Avila University's School of Education programs are nationally accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) and at the state level by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.
Avila is highly regarded by Kansas City area school administrators and teachers. These individuals serve on the Teacher Education Advisory Council, provide consultation to the School of Education and interact with our faculty on a consistent basis which opens many doors for Avila graduates.
Full-time faculty in the Avila School of Education have earned doctoral degrees and have held professional positions in K-12 schools. They have experience working with children, youth, families and colleagues, which they bring into their university teaching on a regular basis.
School of Education faculty members serve as academic advisors for the teacher education programs. Advisors assist students with course registration, academic, professional and personal goal setting, and meeting program specific requirements.
The Avila School of Education offers flexible points of entry into teacher education programs. Students may begin fall, spring or summer in keeping with their personal needs.
Class sizes in the Avila School of Education are small. Faculty know every student personally and post office hours for the purpose of being available to students who have questions, need assistance with assignments or just wish to have conversations with their professors outside of class.
Avila is one of the few universities in the area that offers special education certification at the undergraduate level. This program allows students to earn both an elementary and special education certification at the same time. The program includes additional field-based experiences and the opportunity to co-teach in both elementary and special education contexts within the same semester.
The Avila School of Education has a team of K-12 mentor teachers in urban, rural, suburban, private and parochial schools all over the Kansas City metropolitan area (Missouri and Kansas side of the state line). This Teaching Excellence Team (TEXT) is comprised of mentors trained by the Avila School of Education to work with our teacher education students on an ongoing basis. They host our teacher education students for field-based and clinical experiences. These placements allow teachers in training to have many field experiences where they gradually pick up more and more responsibilities and learn how to be successful in many different types of school environments.
The Avila School of Education plans a Teacher Career Fair and Interview Night to assist students in the Final Clinical Experience with job seeking processes. As a part of Final Clinical Experience Seminar, students have the opportunity to meet human resource personnel and administrators from a host of local districts and schools to network, share their resumes and interview for possible openings in area schools.
International and global travel and field-placement opportunities are available for students in order to better prepare them to work with the diverse populations.
Avila students have many opportunities for co-curricular involvement across campus and in the School of Education. The Avila Education Association and Kappa Delta Pi Education Honor Society offer opportunities for students to receive additional professional development, network with area K-12 schools, participate in service projects and get to know other students preparing to be teachers.
Avila is one of only a few universities in the Midwest to offer International Advocacy as a degree or minor option. This program is a practical, engaging program designed to prepare aspiring professionals for careers advocating holistically for children, youth, and families in and beyond educational settings. It is ideally suited for individuals who want to work with global non-profits, governmental organizations, and in international schools, etc. The degree program will prepare students to advocate and educate domestically or globally.
The block tuition system allows students to take anywhere from 12 to 18 credit hours for a standard price.
School of Education Hall of Fame
Teacher candidates, master teachers and professors from the Avila University School of Education are consistently recognized for outstanding instruction and leadership in their buildings, districts, and states. The School of Education Hall of Fame captures these highlights. Congratulations to these alums and professors who exemplify the Avila School of Education mission, purpose and philosophy on a daily basis.
Outstanding Art Educator of the Year
Heather Huettner, Avila School of Education alum, was named the 2018-2019 Outstanding Elementary Art Educator of the Year by the Kansas Art Education Association. Heather is an art teacher at Crestview Elementary in the Shawnee Mission School District. She received her art teaching certification through Avila's Graduate Initial Teaching Certification program and went on to earn her Masters in Teaching and Learning. Congratulations Heather!
Raymore-Peculiar School District's Teacher of the Year
Brett Beneke, Avila alum, was named Raymore-Peculiar's Teacher of the Year! Mr. Beneke teaches English to sophomores and juniors. In July 2017, he traveled with a group from Avila University to Rwanda, Africa as a member of the Fulbright Scholar group. Congratulations Brett!
Peace Teachers Program at the U.S. Institute of Peace
Amy Cameron, a School of Education alum and current teacher at Grandview High School, was one of four middle and high school teachers accepted into the 2017 Peace Teachers Program at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP). Ms. Cameron received this honor due to "her commitment to and success in teaching about global issues of conflict and peace." To learn more about USIP, please visit their website, www.usip.org/public-education/peace-teachers-program.
Missouri Teacher of the Year Finalist
Lindsay Thompson, Fort Osage High School English teacher, was named a Missouri Teacher of the Year finalist. Ms. Thompson earned an English degree with a Secondary Education minor at Avila University in 2001.
Horizon Award Recipient
Katherine Durick received the 2015 Kansas Horizon Award. The Horizon Award recognizes outstanding first year teachers. Ms. Durick is a seventh grade science teacher at Lakewood Middle School in the Blue Valley School District. Ms. Durick received her graduate teaching certificate in 2013.
Outstanding Teacher of the Year
Kathy Coleman was named Our Lady of Presentation's (Lee's Summit, MO) Outstanding Teacher of the Year. Ms. Coleman earned her master's degree at Avila in 1997.
Teacher of the Year -- Hazel Grove Elementary
Lynn Riggs Ross was named Hazel Grove Elementary's Teacher of the Year. Hazel Grove is in the Kansas City, KS Public School District.
Kansas Teacher of the Year Finalist
Jenny Nash was a 2014 Kansas Teacher of the Year finalist. Jenny is a teacher at Cottenwood Elementary in the Paola School District. Ms. Nash graduated from Avila University in 2004 with an elementary education degree.
Outstanding Teacher of the Year -- Lewis Elementary in Excelsior Springs
Aaron Gaddis was named Lewis Elementary's Outstanding Teacher of the Year. Mr. Gaddis received his Master's in Teaching and Learning from Avila in 2015.
Teacher Hall of Fame
Avila School of Education retired adjunct professor and honors biology and human anatomy/physiology teacher at Shawnee Mission South High School, Jan Alderson, was inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame. Alderson has been teaching Special Methods of Secondary Biology for six years in the Avila School of Education and hosting Avila teacher candidates for field-based placements in her classroom. Alderson has completed 45 years of dedicated teaching as a public school educator.
Her commitment to mentoring teachers-in-training, encouraging young women in pursuing STEM careers, and enhancing her teaching through the use of innovative technologies set her apart as a science educator.
Throughout her career, Alderson received numerous national awards, including but not limited to the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching, an Outstanding Public Service Award from the National Weather Service. She was a semifinalist for the National Science Teachers Association Science Teaching Award. She facilitated numerous student science demonstrations and competitions, has coached high school students to top honors in national science contests, and has contributed work in several major publications.
School of Education Alumni Award
Erin (Wilson) Oligschlaeger was presented with the 2013 School of Education Alumni Award. Erin was a 2002 graduate of Avila University. She earned her degree in Special Education. Erin is the Director of Student Services in Excelsior Springs, MO. Erin has also held the position of Director of Special Services (Marshall, MO), Principal (Eldon Elementary School), and special education teacher. Erin is one of the founding members of DIGS, Inc., Transitional Living Program for Saline county. She is currently earning an educational doctorate from the University of Missouri Columbia.
Cerner STEM Internship Program
Becky Brents was selected to participate in the Cerner STEM Internship Program for math and science pre-service teacher candidates this summer. She received a scholarship and completed a paid summer internship at Cerner. Avila University’s School of Education was excited to be part of this initiative intended to help future teachers move into the classroom well prepared in the areas of science, technology and math.
MACTE Outstanding Beginning Teacher Awards
Sara Boen was honored as one of Missouri’s Outstanding Beginning Teachers by the Missouri Association for Colleges of Teacher Education (MACTE). Sara is currently teaching first grade at Chinn Elementary in the Park Hill School District.
Michael Allen was honored as one of Missouri's Outstanding Beginning Teachers by the Missouri Association for Colleges of Teacher Education (MACTE). Michael is currently teaching 7th Grade Science at Moreland Ridge Middle School in the Blue Springs School District.
School of Teaching ESL Silver Anniversary Award
Diane Mora received the School of Teaching English as a Second Language Silver Anniversary Award. Diane was honored for using technology (Google Voice and Educreations) to enhance language development in the classroom.
Teacher of the Year – East Lynne Elementary (East Lynne School District)
Melessia Brauer, 4th grade teacher at East Lynne Elementary, was named the 2013 Teacher of the Year for her building.
Chris Frye, an Avila School of Education alum who earned his teacher certification in the field of art education, created the illustrations for the children’s book “Janko and the Darkness.” The book is for sale through Amazon.
Jessica Edwards, an Avila School of Education alum who earned her teacher certification in English education, won the Horizon Award in Kansas. The award is to honor outstanding first year teachers. Jessica teaches English at Blue Valley High School.
Teacher of the Year - Eastwood Hills Elementary (Raytown School District)
Courtney Reynolds Stratton was named Eastwood Hills Elementary teacher of the year. Courtney commented, “Considering this is only my second year teaching I owe everyone at Avila a huge THANK YOU!!!! I have kept all of my materials and have returned to them often!!”
Teacher of the Year - Turner High School (Turner School District)
Chaur Jacobson, English teacher at Turner High School, was named the 2012 Teacher of the Year and was also named the district’s secondary Kansas Teacher of the Year representative.
Teacher of the Year - Van Horn High School (Independence School District)
Wendy Kline, Van Horn Social Studies teacher, was named Van Horn’s Teacher of the Year for 2011-2012.
Kansas Teacher of the Year
Linda Irvin Wiersma was named Kansas Teacher of the Year for the Kansas Congressional District 2. Linda stated about receiving the honor, “Once again I must express my gratitude to Avila for the outstanding education and instructional ideas I received while receiving my undergrad and post graduate degrees. I am overwhelmed and excited about this opportunity. Thanks to all of you, at Avila, I know where my passion started.” (Linda is also a TEXT Mentor and serves on the Avila Board of Counselors)
Excellence in Teaching Award (Lee’s Summit R-7 School District)
Missouri Teacher of the Year
Suzanne Mitko was named the 2009-2010 Missouri Teacher of the Year. Suzanne is a graduate of Avila, serves as an adjunct for Avila’s School of Education and is also a valued member of the TEXT Team. Suzanne was featured on the cover of HER LIFE magazine. There was a 2 page article covering an interview with Suzanne and discussing her educational philosophy.
Our Lady of the Presentation Sisters of Charity Award
Carmen Bisacca, alumni of Avila University’s Graduate Teacher Certification Program, received the Our Lady of the Presentation Sisters of Charity Award Honoring Excellence in Catholic Education. Carmen stated thanked the Avila Faculty for a wonderful education. She said, “It is because of all of you that I strive to do my best each day.”
Teacher of the Year-Little Blue Elementary (Raytown School District)
Dianne Saltzman was named Teacher of the Year at Little Blue Elementary in the Raytown School District. Mrs. Saltzman received this honor in just her third year of teaching. Dianne stated, “I am ever mindful of those who helped me get here!”