Mizzou Academy Celebrates Faculty Promotions

Posted in: News
Faculty Promotions

As we launch a new academic year, Mizzou Academy is thrilled to celebrate twelve faculty promotions! Alicia Bixby, Dr. Thitinun (Ta) Boonseng, Jill Clingan, Lisa DeCastro, Dr. Sherry Denney, Kimberly Kester, David Prats Vidal, Brennan Ransdell, Gregory Soden, Brian Stuhlman, Ericca Thornhill, and Stephanie Walter have all moved up from instructor titles into professors of professional practice. 

This new faculty role is fitting as this group is leading innovation in online, blended, and global education. They are doing so through academic lead work at Mizzou Academy, our lab school within the University of Missouri’s College of Education and Human Development. 

Mizzou Academy has a long commitment to iteration, innovation, and continuous improvement. With University lab school programming dating back to 1913, our school has deep roots in the University structure. In 1999, Mizzou Academy was accredited by Cognia, and in 2011 it was brought into the College of Education and Human Development. These faculty promotions  celebrate the accomplishments of our academic leads and mark Mizzou Academy’s important place within the college. 

Dr. Fishman-Weaver, executive director of Mizzou Academy, was thrilled to share the news with her faculty. “Your work in leadership and teaching is noticed and appreciated. This is an exciting moment in our school history. The move from instructor to a ranked professor of professional practice is a cause to celebrate.”

She also acknowledged the advocacy and support of Dean Riley-Tilman and Amy Groves, director of HR. “These leaders were essential in recognizing the important work of our academic team and supporting their promotions.”

These promotions require an additional academic home for the faculty members to further their research, teaching, and service contributions. Dr. Sam Otten, chair for Learning, Teaching, and Curriculum (LTC) offered “such a bright welcome to our faculty team into the LTC department.” said Fishman-Weaver. 

As the faculty move into these new titles, we are excited about supporting initiatives in LTC and working together on more collaborations across the college. “The expertise of this group is simply unmatched,” says Fishman-Weaver.

  • Alicia Bixby has served as a counselor in online school settings for over 25 years. Her leadership was essential in launching our diploma program, which has grown beyond anyone’s dream. Last year, Mizzou Academy graduated over 800 high school students from 18 different countries. 
  • Dr. Thitinun (Ta) Boonseng is an expert in intercultural sensitivities and experience-based learning, such as our Mizzou International Experience program. He also teaches college courses for the School of Information Science & Learning Technologies (SISLT).
  • Jill Clingan leads a language arts program for thousands of high school students across Brazil and Spain. She is the co-author (with Fishman-Weaver) of two books on teaching women’s and gender studies in middle and high school. Both were released this year.
  • Lisa DeCastro leads our international elementary program, which has grown to over 800 students this year. She has also contributed to multiple publications over the past few years.
  • Dr. Sherry Denney brings a background in counseling, language and arts education, and middle school across multiple departments at Mizzou Academy.
  • Kimberly Kester has been recognized nationally for her work with multilingual and refugee learners. In addition to interdisciplinary leadership for Mizzou Academy, she is also working on a project on global education in the department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis.
  • David Prats Vidal leads our extensive world language program that includes 23 different world languages. Additionally, he teaches Spanish language courses for the department of Romance Languages. 
  • Brennan Ransdell leads our secondary mathematics program, including teaching and curriculum design for two Advanced Placement courses, as well as coaching our international math team. 
  • Gregory Soden supports new teachers in our school and teaches across content areas in language arts, humanities, and social studies. He has received international acclaim for his work in podcasting and teaching religious studies.  
  • Brian Stuhlman coordinates three programs for our school: Mizzou Global Scholars (co-teach), Mizzou Middle School (global), and the Mizzou International Experience. Additionally, he teaches preservice teachers through LTC and engages in important work with the Mizzou Honors College. 
  • Ericca Thornhill leads our secondary science program. She presents and publishes nationally through her work with the National Center for Science Education and is an avid local volunteer with the Missouri River Relief. 
  • Stephanie Walter directs teaching and learning for Mizzou Academy. Through this work she has presented and coached teachers internationally over zoom and on-site in mid-Missouri; Hanoi, Vietnam; and across southwest Brazil. She is an expert on feedbacking and rubric-design and has offered workshops to our preservice teachers on these skills. 

Mizzou Academy is committed to cultivating excellent online and blended learning environments. We serve students from over 40 countries and offer 200+ courses across elementary, middle, and high school. In addition to the excellent education K-12 students experience through their studies, we are also able to offer an incredible learning context for our college. These twelve faculty members play an essential role in leading this work. Congratulations!