Simpson University School of Education Honors 43 Students, Hosts 100 Local Educators

REDDING, Calif.—Simpson University’s School of Education, which recently received full accreditation renewal for seven years, honored 43 students in two January ceremonies and hosted more than 100 local educators for a teachers summit.

“As the School of Education, we’re committed to preparing you for your life and calling of doing good while serving students,” Dr. Craig Cook, dean of the school, told recent graduates. “Each of you fulfills that calling in your own unique way, shaping the lives of students.”


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The School of Education, which offers master’s degrees and teaching and administrative credential programs, has graduated nearly 3,000, many of whom teach or serve as administrators in Northern California.

Among the most recent graduates were 16 students who earned a Master of Arts in Education and seven who earned their Preliminary Administrative Services Credential. They were honored in a medallion ceremony following Simpson University’s commencement on Jan. 12.

A Jan. 15 credential ceremony honored another 22 students who completed the teaching credential program, highlighting Student Teachers of the Year for Single Subject and Multi-Subject, as well as a Dean’s Cup recipient.

Within the same week, the School of Education also hosted 100 North State educators for a rescheduled Better and Stronger Together Teachers Summit. The original event, scheduled to coincide with the statewide summit on July 27, was canceled due to the Carr Fire.

The summit featured five Shasta County Teachers of the Year– Holly Jones, Jennifer Marty, Matthew Fowler, Paul Burbank, and Brian Grigsby—in a panel discussion about what the theme of “It’s Personal” meant to each of them as a teacher.


Simpson University has been a host site for the statewide Better Together summit for the past four years. The free summit provides a networking, learning and resource-sharing platform for local educators.

The following Simpson graduates were honored during the medallion ceremony:

  • Outstanding Teacher Single Subject: Trey Nichols
  • Outstanding Student Teachers Multiple Subject: Bethany Holthaus and Natessa Burrone
  • Dean’s Cup: John Fitzpatrick

“This program is so special,” Burrone told the audience after receiving her award. “It has truly prepared me to become an educator, and I’m so thankful for that.”

Burrone shared that her mother passed away six years ago from cancer.

“This was a life-changing event that shaped the person I am today,” she said. “In my second phase of student-teaching, I was faced with a situation where I knew I had to open up to a student about my life more than I ever thought I would.”

A young boy in her classroom had lost his father in a recent accident, and his mother was terminally ill. “He was acting out toward his teachers,” she said. “Everyone tried to help him, but he was mad at all adults.”

One day the boy locked himself in a closet at school. Burrone said she sat with him and shared the story of losing her mom to cancer. “We talked for hours,” she said. “I became the person that understood him and he felt comfortable with me. He started coming to school again every day and called to tell me about his day. That’s how I know that everything we’re going through as teachers will be worth it.”

Holthaus said her student teaching experience taught her that “the most important thing” is not teaching Common Core state standards.

“It’s establishing a deep personal connection with each student,” she said. “We as teachers have to pour ourselves into them everyday and have faith that we make a difference.”

Learn more about Simpson University’s School of Education at

Photos by Chyna Xiong, Matea Langston and Peter Martinez / Simpson University


Simpson University, founded in 1921, moved to Redding almost 30 years ago and will celebrate its centennial in 2021. In addition to offering 25 majors in its traditional undergraduate program, the university has graduated almost 4,000 North State adults from its ASPIRE degree-completion program, and nearly 3,000 from its School of Education. It has a highly ranked School of Nursing, a seminary, and master’s programs in counseling psychology and organizational leadership.

Simpson is launching new athletics programs in track and field, swimming and diving, and men’s volleyball, as well as a bass fishing team. The university is also working to better serve transfer students from community colleges through its commitment to Associate Degree for Transfer agreements.

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