USF Once Again Offering Summer Program for Future Educators

Future Educator Summer Academy 2022 registration information

Joliet, Ill. – High School students considering a career in education and who are interested in a unique, on-campus leadership experience are encouraged to participate in the University of St. Francis (USF) College of Education’s Future Educator Summer Academy 2022 in June.  

USF’s Future Educator Summer Academy 2022 will take place on June 14-15, 2022, on the university’s main campus in Joliet. The experience will provide opportunities for participants to:

  • explore careers in education and learn what it takes to be a GREAT teacher;
  • network with educators and other high school students interested in teaching;
  • enjoy USF’s challenge course and discover team building as a tool for learning;
  • spend two days and one night in a USF dorm, supervised by adult program facilitators, and;
  • leave inspired and focused on a plan to become a successful educator.

“The Future Educator Summer Academy program is crucially important for two reasons. First, it allows high school students who are either dreaming of, or considering the possibility of, becoming a teacher have their dreams validated. Second, it inspires students to go into this profession with eyes wide open through inspiring and challenging activities,” said Future Educator Summer Academy program coordinator and USF reading program coordinator Amy Schroeder.

“In 2021 over 6,200 education positions in Illinois remained unfilled. It is the College of Education’s mission to provide the students of Illinois with the best teachers around, and recruiting the best and brightest from high schools is the first step,” Schroeder added.

The program is open to high school students who have completed at least their sophomore year. The cost per participant for the program is $80 and includes accommodations, meals and a t-shirt. A limited number of scholarships are available to qualifying students. To register, visit Space for this program is limited. Contact program coordinator Amy Schroeder at with any questions.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 52,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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U.S. News Recognizes USF on Its 2023 Best Education Schools Listing

Joliet, Ill. – U.S. News & World Report released its 2023 Best Education Schools listing today, and the University of St. Francis (USF) is proud to announce its inclusion in the annual publication.

According to USF College of Education dean John Gambro, Ed.D., USF effectively prepares teachers to excel as they begin their respective careers.

“We focus on excellence and prepare teachers to excel on their first day in the classroom. Our graduates have confidence that allows them to be successful in helping students reach their fullest potential. USF has one of the best teacher education programs in Illinois with 100% pass rates on all required tests. This reputation for excellence sets our graduates apart and results in USF teacher candidates being highly sought-after for employment after graduation,” Gambro said.

Although the many challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic continue to have a lingering effect on the teaching profession, Gambro believes the preparation that USF teaching students receive positions them to succeed even as the needs of students, parents and schools change.

“Preparing the next generation of teachers is more important now than ever before. Due to the pandemic, the challenges that educators face require that they are highly skilled in differentiating to meet the academic and social emotional needs of students.  This level of skill requires a student-centered approach that affirms and values the diversity and individual differences that each student brings to a learning experience. To that end, our programs develop teachers who educate the whole person and design developmentally appropriate learning environments that allow all students to maximize their potential,” Gambro said.

“We place a high priority on real-world experience and getting students involved in actual teaching as soon as possible.  After their first semester freshman year, students are able to complete a field experience in a classroom every semester.  That’s a very unique feature not available in other schools,” Gambro added.

Visit for more information on USF’s undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs.

Click here for more information on U.S. News & World Report’s 2023 Best Education Schools listing.

About U.S News & World Report’s Ranking Methodology

According to U.S. News & World Report, the organization “evaluated education schools on research activity, academic excellence of entering students, faculty resources, and opinions on program quality from education school deans and school hiring professionals. In fall 2021 and early 2022, U.S. News collected statistical and reputation data directly from education schools for the overall Best Education Schools ranking. The data was also used for nine distinct rankings in education specialty areas and for populating each education school’s individual directory page. Altogether, 457 schools granting doctoral education degrees were surveyed. Among them, 274 responded, providing the data needed to be eligible for inclusion in the overall graduate education rankings.”

Additional details are available here.

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 52,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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USF Joins State Planning Program to Help Recruit, Retain Teachers of Color

Joliet, Ill. – The Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) recently announced that 24 Illinois colleges and universities, including the University of St. Francis (USF), have volunteered for a pilot program to develop plans to recruit and retain future teachers of color. The pilot will help establish best practices ahead of ISBE requiring all 54 Illinois educator preparation programs to develop plans next year.

“The diversity of Illinois is one of our state’s greatest strengths – including in our classrooms,” said Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker. “By recruiting faculty of color who share their students’ lived experiences or expand their perspectives, our schools can empower more students to achieve their goals and pursue their passions. This pilot program is just the beginning of ISBE’s recruitment efforts and I commend the leadership of the 24 colleges and universities who have volunteered to spearhead this initiative with us.”

“I applaud the 24 colleges and universities that have volunteered to lead the way in breaking down barriers for people of color to join the teaching profession,” said State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carmen I. Ayala. “All students, and especially students of color, benefit from having diverse educators throughout their school experiences. My own mentors in my career have been people of color like me. When the role models and people in positions of authority in our lives look like us, that shapes our perception of our place in the world in a positive and powerful way.”

USF College of Education dean John Gambro, Ed.D., said that the pilot program aligns closely with some of USF’s top priorities.

“The University of St. Francis places equity and social justice as a top priority.  The work of this pilot program is essential in ensuring that students in Illinois have access to teachers of color who can make a positive impact on the learning and development of all students.  We view this collaboration as an opportunity to share some of our successes and learn from other successful programs from across the state,” Gambro said.

A press release from the IBHE explained the recruitment and retention efforts are part of ISBE’s three-year strategic plan, which includes the goal of increasing teacher diversity in Illinois public schools. The 2021 Illinois Report Card released last week showed that 82 percent of practicing Illinois teachers identify as White, whereas only 47 percent of Illinois public school students identify as White.

The release also cited research from the Learning Policy Institute which shows that teachers of color boost the academic performance of students of color, including reading and math test scores, graduation rates, and aspirations to attend college. Studies also show that students taught by teachers of the same race are less likely to be chronically absent and less likely to experience exclusionary discipline.

The number of teachers of color in the profession has grown incrementally over the past three years. The pilot announced today will help speed that progress by supporting programs in addressing their specific barriers to increasing candidate diversity. Pilot participants will draft their plans, receive feedback from a peer review committee composed primarily of Diverse and Learner Ready Teacher Network members, and meet to exchange ideas and collaborate. Pilot participants will finalize their plans by May 31 and reconvene in the future to dialogue about what strategies worked.

The comprehensive listing of participating Illinois colleges and universities includes:

  • Augustana College
  • Benedictine University
  • Blackburn College
  • Chicago State University
  • DePaul University
  • Dominican University
  • Eastern Illinois University
  • Eureka College
  • Governors State University
  • Greenville University
  • Illinois College
  • Illinois State University
  • Lewis University
  • National Louis University
  • Northeastern Illinois University
  • Northern Illinois University
  • Rockford University
  • Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville
  • Trinity International University
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • University of Illinois at Chicago
  • University of St. Francis
  • VanderCook College of Music
  • Western Illinois University

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The University of St. Francis, in Joliet, Ill., serves close to 4,000 students nationwide and offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs in the arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and social work. There are over 52,000 USF alumni across the globe. For information, call 800-735-7500 or visit

University of St. Francis: Bigger thinking. Brighter purpose.

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Abby Kieffer ’17

Alumni Spotlight: Abby Kieffer ’17

female headshotUSF College of Education alumna leads her classroom through the COVID-19 pandemic while keeping students engaged and entertained.

With her USF degree in Elementary Education backing her, Abby Kieffer ’17 has gone on to a job she loves: a middle school math and English teacher at St. Dominic School in Bolingbrook, Illinois. While she loves working in class with students, she has needed to adapt her teaching style and coursework as schools across Illinois moved classes online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this strong Saint was up for the task.

“It has definitely been a challenge to adapt to teaching online. However, I have a wonderful principal and coworkers that have made the transition smooth. Our students are fantastic, and we all know that this is a learning experience for everyone,” she said

Though the transition was difficult, it confirmed in Abby how important in-class teaching is for a lot of students and how much she misses being there in-person for their daily growth.

“I miss seeing my students every day, and not being able to see them has made it tough. We have found ways around it with weekly class meetings and I co-run our Quiz Bowl Club (which is like a Scholastic Bowl) with our associate pastor. We started to use Kahoot to do this over Google Meet and the students love it,” Abby noted.

Passionate about education, Abby is working toward a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a focus in Differentiation at the American College of Education.

“I will be finished with my classes this August and I am so excited! It is so awesome to further myself in this way and continue to learn and grow,” she said.

We are so proud of her!

Returning to USF

This past academic year, Abby also participated in the Student Alumni Mentoring (SAM) program and is looking forward to participating in the future. She said, “I would like to do this again and hopefully be able to give more of myself into the program to benefit my mentee and myself.”

Abby loves to come back to USF when she can. She said, “I haven’t attended too many alumni events, but anytime I can visit my alma mater is a great experience. I like to come back to visit professors when I can. I enjoyed coming back to see the Vocal Jazz Ensemble perform (I was a part of this for two years).”

We hope to see her around campus again soon!