Education

Get Involved

A college education is more than just taking courses. Meet new people, apply your skills and stretch beyond your comfort zone. Make your education an experience.

  • Community Partnerships: Many classes involve working with children and teachers in the various schools around the Gunnison Valley.
     
  • Future Educators of America: Students in this club engage in volunteer work and professional development opportunities along with other like-minded students.
     
  • Residency Year: Students may choose to student teach in an elementary (K-6) classroom anywhere in the world.
     
  • Scholarships: Western offers 13 different scholarships specifically for Education students.

Profiles

Alissa Axtell, J.D.

~Staff~

Alissa Axtell smiles at the camera
Alissa Axtell smiles at the camera

Alissa Axtell, J.D.

“Western’s position as Director of Educator Licensing provided me with the opportunity to not only combine policy and experience but also to help prepare the next generation of influential educators."

The Education Department is excited to welcome our new Director of Educator Licensing, Alissa Axtell. 

Why did you decide to teach?

I was incredibly fortunate to have had the opportunity to attain an excellent education. Throughout elementary, secondary and undergraduate studies, my teachers and professors instilled in me a passion for learning and a desire to connect classroom studies with the outside world. In essence, I wanted to be able to give to this generation the opportunities that I was given.  

Why did you decide to join the faculty here?

After teaching in K-12 for 10 years and completing my law degree, I was ready to find a position where I could combine my experience in teaching and coaching with my passion for policy. Western’s position as Director of Educator Licensing provided me with the opportunity to not only combine policy and experience but also to help prepare the next generation of influential educators. I knew it would be a great fit as soon as I met the faculty in the department.  

What sets Western apart from other places you’ve studied or worked?

One of the aspects of Western that sets it apart for me is the level of collaboration. The faculty and staff in the Department of Education utilize each other as resources for expertise and problem solve together.  It is a very supportive, innovative and exciting place to work. 

Gaye Jenkins, Ph.D.

~Faculty~

Dr. Gaye Jenkins Headshot
Dr. Gaye Jenkins Headshot

Gaye Jenkins, Ph.D.

Gaye Jenkins served Western as Associate V.P. for Academic Affairs and Dean of Graduate Studies from March 1, 2014 to June 30, 2018.

Chair, Associate Professor of Education

Associate V.P. for Academic Affairs, Dean of Graduate Studies

B.Ed., University of Sussex, England; M.Ed., Lesley University; Ed.D. California Coast University

Under the direction of Education Department Chair Gaye, Western is leading the field of Educator Preparation in quality and innovation. "In Educator Preparation (Ed Prep), it is crucial to remain responsive to the sways and shifts required of K-12 educators in the field," says Jenkins. "Our very emphasis on the word ‘preparation’ indicates an obligation to actually perform ahead of the curves of transformation before they become evident in classrooms. Graduates need to be ready to not only merge with existing practices, but also to demonstrate skills of leadership into new strategies and ways of thinking that are required as current educators replace former emphases."

To ensure the relevance of Western's program and remain responsive to the needs of the field. Jenkins has led the faculty effort to continuously realign courses with the state's Teacher and Principal Quality Standards (T/PQS). This year, under Jenkins's leadership, Western also implemented an comprehensive observational tool to measure educator performance against quality standards. These efforts are serving as a model for educator preparation programs across the state and have gained the attention of the Colorado Department of Higher Education.

Dr. Jenkins earned her Doctorate in Education from California Coast University.  Before coming to Western, she founded and ran a private educational consulting firm. She is passionate about culturally and linguistically diverse education. 

Scholarships

Scholarships associated with academic programs usually have a specific scholarship application form that can easily be obtained by contacting that academic program's office or visiting that academic program's web page. If you have any questions, please contact the Financial Aid office at 970.943.3085 or 800.876.5309.

Brennecke/Elkins, Magdalene Scholarship

Available to:

Students with Junior standing or above at the end of the term in which he/she applies; must plan to teach at either elementary or secondary level; must be fully admitted to the the Education program; must have a 3.0 GPA in education and overall; must have demonstrated personal characteristics which would predict success as a teacher. Financial need will be considered.

Provided by:

Family and friends of Magdalene Elkins, who was a 1920 graduate and lifelong friend of Western.

Amount:

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by:

The Education Department.

Application:

Contact the Education Department for application and deadline information.  970.943.2030 - Crawford Hall 101

Hansen, Dr. Kenneth H. and Mary Alice Memorial Education Scholarship

Available to:

Must be a full-time student with a GPA of 3.0 or greater. Preference will be given to nontraditional students. Must be studying in Western's Education Program with plans to become a teacher. Must demonstrate appropriate abilities, skills and promise as observed by Western's Education faculty. Preference shall be given to students with financial need.

Provided by:

Mary Alice Hansen and her family to celebrate the memory of her late husband Kenneth

Amount:

Depending on funds available

Selected by:

Education faculty

Application:

Contact the Education Department for application and deadline information. 970.943.2030 - Crawford Hall 101

Knight, Sophie Hamrick Memorial Scholarship

Available to:

Western students who have established financial need and a positive attitude; must demonstrate interest and potential in becoming a teacher. Preference will be given to freshmen, but open to students in all classes and to high school graduates who may not be eligible for other scholarships awarded to top 5 percent of graduating class.

Provided by:

Her son, V. Robert Kerr, to perpetuate the memory of Sophie Simpson Knight, an outstanding example of academic achievement, citizenship and an exemplar of courage and dedication in the pursuit of education and knowledge. Mrs. Knight's association with Western began in 1944 and continued for more than 20 years, graduating with an A.B. and a Life Certificate in 1957 at the age of 64.

Amount:

Award depends on funds available

Selected by:

The Education Department.

Application:

Contact the Education Department for application and deadline information. 970.943.2030 - Crawford Hall 101

Nylund, Jennie & Fritz Memorial Scholarship

Available to:

Graduates of Nucla High School attending Western full time who intend to pursue a career in teaching. Maintain academic eligibility with a GPA of 3.0 or greater. If no candidate from Nucla High applies, any education major is eligible.

Provided by:

Jennie and Fritz's daughter, Betty Nylund Gibbs and her husband, Verner.

Amount:

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by:

Western Colorado University Scholarship Committee (Director of Financial Aid).

Application:

Contact the Education Department for application and deadline information.  970.943.2030 - Crawford Hall 101

Randall, Edwin H. Memorial Scholarship

Available to:

Seniors at Western Colorado University who are active members of intercollegiate sports teams who also plan to teach. Must demonstrate superior academic performance; must maintain an overall GPA of 3.0. Must exhibit, in the classroom and in the Intercollegiate Athletics arena, outstanding character and leadership abilities.

Provided by:

Established to honor the memory of Western Professor, Ed "Doc" Randall. Dr. Randall placed great value in both academics and Intercollegiate Athletics. This award was conceived to reward a student-Intercollegiate Athletics who has made admirable progress in teaching or coaching fields.

Amount:

$500 per academic year.

Selected by:

Western Scholarship Committee 

Application:

Nominations submitted by Western head coaches. Contact the Intercollegiate Athletics Department for additional information. 970.943.2079 - Paul Wright Gym 210

Reid, Paul and Dorothy Scholarship In Teacher Education

Available to:

Must be a full-time junior or senior at Western; fully admitted to the Teacher Education Program at the time of selection as recipient. Must be an active participant in a Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference sport and have a 3.0 GPA in the major area of study for a licensure as a teacher.

Provided by:

Paul and Dorothy Reid.

Amount:

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by:

The Education and Athletics Departments

Application:

Contact the Education Department for application and deadline information.  970.943.2030 - Crawford Hall 101

Rouse, Roberta M. Scholarship

Available to:

Colorado residents. Must be a full-time student in good academic standing; must be planning a career in elementary education; demonstrated academic performance and financial need. Preference is given to students returning to college to continue their education.

Provided by:

Her children to honor their mother. Roberta Rouse met her husband, Fred, while they were attending Western. Following WWII, they returned to Western where Roberta supported her husband as he completed his education and began his career as an educator. After the birth of their last of nine children, Roberta returned to complete her B.A. and M.A. degrees in Elementary Education. Seven of their children also attended Western and five became school teachers.

Amount:

Award depends on available funds (approximately $500).

Selected by:

The Education Department.

Application:

Contact the Education Department for application and deadline information.  970.943.2030 - Crawford Hall 101

Tredway, Dan Memorial Education Scholarship

Available to:

Colorado residents with preference given to Western Slope. Must be a full-time senior obtaining an Education Licensure. Must demonstrate financial need and maintain a 3.0 GPA. Must be a motivated individual and high achiever.

Provided by:

The family of Dan Tredway.

Amount:

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by:

The Education Department in cooperation with the Director of Financial Aid.

Application:

Contact the Education Department for application and deadline information.  970.943.2030 - Crawford Hall 101

Zugelder, Ann Award Fund

Available to:

Men and women students at Western Colorado University pursuing certification in elementary education; must be a full-time sophomore or junior at time of selection, or junior or senior at time award is given; must have a 3.5 GPA or higher. Must exhibit high standards of scholarship, leadership and citizenship and above average communicative skills.

Provided by:

Ann Zugelder, one of Gunnison's most distinguished citizens. She was an elementary school teacher for more than 30 years, maintaining her interest and support of elementary education after her retirement in 1967.

Amount:

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by:

The Education Department

Application:

Contact the Education Department for application and deadline information.  970.943.2030 - Crawford Hall 101

Haefeli, Delia Fay Scholarship

Available to:

Female Education students majoring in K-12 Teacher Education who have a 3.0 GPA and demonstrate past and present involvement in community service. Applicants must have graduated from a Colorado Western Slope high school, and be a first-generation student of a college, university, or post-secondary education.

Provided by:

Delia Fay Haefeli, a Colorado native who graduated from West Grand High School, in Kremmling, Colo. She graduated from Western in 1985 with a B.A. in Elementary Education. She received her Master's degree from UNC. She was the first person in her family to attend and graduate from college. Delia has taught elementary and middle school for 33 years and is an ardent Boston Red Sox fan.

Amount:

Award depends on funds available

Selected by:

The Education Department

Application:

Contact the Education Department for application and deadline information. 970.943.2030 - Crawford Hall 101

Barr, Robert M. and Roberta Armstrong Scholarship

Available to:

Must be a Colorado Resident, a Western student enrolled at  in at least 12 credits, exhibit and document a solid history of exemplary citizenship gaged by involvement in the community, through civic engagement, service learning projects, etc. Prove commitment to teaching and academic excellence, while continuing to hold the aforementioned values throughout the term of the scholarship. Certify financial need.

Provided by:

Mrs. Roberta Barr established this scholarship to help potential teachers gain the education they need to be successful. Mrs. Barr was an educator, over several decades, and understood the importance of well-trained, dedicated teachers. As an alumnus of Western, she was committed to providing scholarships to students who have demonstrated capability, promise, community involvement, and financial need.

Amount:

Award depends on funds available.

Selected by:

The Education Department

Application:

Contact the Education Department for application and deadline information. 970.943.2030 - Crawford Hall 101

Birkholz, John and Rosalie Scholarship

Available to:

Full-time students with a declared or a plan to declare an Education major. Must have a 2.75 GPA and maintain it, in order for continued eligibility. Recipients will be expected to volunteer their time with the Western Foundation, to help with special projects, fundraising events, etc., as a learning experience to advance their practical education.

Provided by:

Peter Birkholz in loving memory of John and Rosalie Birkholz.

Amount:

Depending on funds available.

Selected by:

Peter Birkholz in consultation with the Education faculty and the Director of Financial Aid.

Application:

Contact the Education Department for application and deadline information. 970.943.2157 - Crawford Hall 103

Tutor, Dr. Charles R. Scholarship

Available to:

Full-time Western undergraduate and/or graduate juniors or seniors with an Education emphasis, who have a 3.0 GPA. Preference will be given to seniors and to those of underrepresented populations. Selections are based on financial need.

Application:

Contact the Education Department for application and deadline information. 970.943.2157 - Crawford Hall 103.

Faculty & Staff

Faculty

Alissa Axtell, J.D. headshot
Director of Licensure
Phone: 970.943.3092
Office Location: Crawford Hall 122
Gillian Benedetti, M.S. headshot
Lecturer, Department of Education
Phone:
Office Location: Crawford Hall
Brian Coppess, Ed.D headshot
Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership, Director of Principal Licensure
Phone: 970.943.2135
Office Location: Crawford Hall 108
Caroline Powders Forrest, M.Ed. headshot
Lecturer in Department of Education
Phone: 970.943.7035
Office Location: Crawford Hall 109
Brooke Hanks, M.A. headshot
Senior Lecturer, Department of Education
Phone: 970.943.2504
Office Location: Crawford Hall 105
Jeff Hulbert, M.S. headshot
Faculty Lecturer in Education
Phone: 970.943.2141
Office Location: Crawford Hall 107
Gaye Jenkins, Ed.D. headshot
Associate Professor of Education
Phone: 970.943.2030
Office Location: Remote (hours by appointment)
George Kamberelis, Ph.D. headshot
Education Department Chairperson
Phone: 970.943.2033
Office Location: Crawford Hall 103
Jackie Luft, Ed.D. headshot
Lecturer
Phone: 970.943.7041
Office Location: Crawford Hall 110
Jennifer McCammon, Ed.D. headshot
Lecturer, Department of Education
Office Location: Crawford Hall
Chrissie Nehrenberg, M.A. headshot
Director of Online Learning & Concurrent Enrollment
Phone: 970.773.0561
Office Location: Crawford Hall 111
Ian  Parker Renga, Ph.D. headshot
Assistant Professor of Education
Phone: 970.943.2244
Office Location: Crawford Hall 106
Kim Silbaugh, Ph.D. headshot
Lecturer, Department of Education
Phone: 970-943-2148
Office Location: Crawford Hall
Jennifer Whitacre, M.S. headshot
Lecturer in Education, Director of Summer Teacher Institute
Phone: 970.943.2120
Office Location: Crawford Hall 104
Cori L. Woytek, M.S. headshot
Clinical Coach & Lecturer, Department of Education
Phone: 970.943.3019
Office Location: Crawford Hall 122

Overview

The teacher education curriculum provides students with a quality education in a specific academic area followed by a yearlong residency where they teach in a K-12 classroom. During the residency year, students take online pedagogy courses and apply their pedagogical knowledge in their residency classroom. Students also reflect upon best teaching practices, including collaboration and relationship-building, and they develop leadership skills that extend beyond traditional goals of individual achievement.
 

The Program

The Teacher Education programs are integrated as emphases with more than a dozen majors around campus and then capped with Education-specific courses during the student’s senior year. Students pursuing K-12 licensure can choose to major in either Art, Music, Spanish or Exercise & Sport Science. Students pursuing Secondary licensure can choose to major in Biology, Chemistry, Economics, English, Geology, History, Mathematics or Politics & Government. Students pursuing an Elementary (K-6) licensure enroll in the Elementary Education major. 

For the first three years, students take courses in one of the above content areas. In their senior year, they are matched with a mentor teacher to complete a clinical residency in the location of their choice. Students attend a summer session, after they finish their major to prepare for the residency, and they complete their Education-specific coursework online while they are student teaching. After completing their major, Education-specific coursework and their residency year, students will graduate with a degree in their chosen field and a recommendation for licensure from the Colorado Department of Education. 

Careers & Opportunities

Education graduates are set to become teachers, but there are many different types of teaching positions and pathways to landing a job that fits. Many undergraduates choose to continue to earn their master’s degree, which opens up the possibility of higher wages, specialty licensures and administrative and district-level jobs later in their career. In addition to being a classroom teacher, the following positions may be open to graduates:

  • Coaches
  • Tutors
  • Teachers in international schools
  • Online teachers
  • Outdoor educators
  • Literacy coaches

Learn More

Reach out to Barbara Woerner, BEd for more information.