ICLE’s groundbreaking national alternative to state teacher licensure:

Catholic Educator

Formation and Credential


Aquinas College, Nashville, TN

In-Person & Online Components

Program Description

The Institute for Catholic Liberal Education is now offering a robust alternative to state teacher licensure: a credential program that prepares educators to infuse a deeply Catholic philosophy and practice of education into their teaching.

In the absence of an educator credential program based entirely in the Catholic intellectual tradition, many Catholic schools and superintendents have required state teacher licenses even though most are not required by law to do so. This ICLE program was created to fill the gap. The credential earned by teachers in ICLE’s Catholic Educator Formation and Credential (CEFC) program is designed to be portable and recognized by dioceses across the nation in lieu of state licensure.  Consult your diocesan office to explore approval, or consider the credential program for your own personal formation, whether or not you hold a teaching license.

The 2023-2024 cohort will be limited to 40 teachers at the K-12 teaching level.

The successful pilot program was launched last year for Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila of Denver, whose superintendent, Elias J. Moo, comments: 

 “[O]ur teachers now have access to a truly formative experience that honors their dignity as human people, preparing them in the best of our Catholic tradition made anew for the reality of our times, and giving them sound pedagogical tools rooted in Catholic principles. CEFC has truly been a blessing for the Archdiocese of Denver!”

FORMAT: The CEFC is an 18-month program of five integrated courses delivered through in-person workshops and distance learning:

1. The Virtuous Classroom
2. Pedagogy: Leading From Wonder To Wisdom
3. Trivium: The Mastery of Language
4. Quadrivium: The Harmony of Number
5. Faith and Reason: The Foundations of the Catholic Intellectual Tradition

In-person dates: July 31-August 4, 2023; January 11-15, 2024; and June 24-28, 2024
Location: Aquinas College, 4210 Harding Pike, Nashville, TN 37205

Online components: Conducted via synchronous and asynchronous meetings; also includes teacher observations via video recordings.

For more information, please view our brochure:

REQUIREMENTS: Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree and either a teaching or school leadership position in the 2022-2023 school year.

APPLICATION PROCESS: Applications are now being accepted; review of the applications will begin March 1st, with rolling admission until all spots are filled. Applicants can expect to hear back within three weeks.

TUITION: $5,900 plus books ($100-200)

RELATED COSTS: Lodging/meal costs at Aquinas College are approximately $1,800 total for three trips. Accommodations will be in a dormitory at Aquinas College, and all meals will be provided there. (Lodging/meal payments to Aquinas College will be made through ICLE.)

CONTACT: For any questions on programming or financing, please contact Dr. Alyssan Barnes, Director of the Credential Program, at abarnes@catholicliberaleducation.org or 844-425-3832 x706.

MEET YOUR Instructors:

Alyssan Barnes, Ph.D.

Dr. Aly Barnes studied the trivium at the University of Dallas in graduate school, and she began teaching in trivium-based schools in 2001. She most recently served as a teacher of formal rhetoric, AP English, and moral philosophy at a classical Christian high school in Waco, Texas. Aly is the author of two high school textbooks: Rhetoric Alive: Principles of Persuasion and Rhetoric Alive: Senior Thesis Student Workbook. She developed and has taught a graduate course on the trivium for the master’s program in classical ed at the University of Dallas, and she also serves as an Alcuin Fellow for the Society for Classical Learning. As a convert in 2010, Aly is delighted to bring her passion for liberal education together with her Catholic faith by developing and directing ICLE’s new Catholic Educator Formation and Credential program.

Elisabeth Sullivan, M.S.

A former journalist, Elisabeth joined the Institute in 2010 to advance this vision and train educators in its philosophy and practice. As Executive Director, she develops ICLE’s program content and publications, designs the annual national conference, and promotes ICLE’s mission through speaking engagements across the country. Elisabeth is a CiRCE-Certified Classical Teacher who has taught middle school writing and literature, served on Catholic school boards, and served as director of communications for a liberal arts school in the Catholic tradition. She holds a B.S. in Humanities from the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, and an M.S. from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.

DeAnn Stuart, Ph.D.

DeAnn Stuart received her B.A. and Master of Humanities from the University of Dallas and her Ph.D. from Baylor University. Over the years, she has received multiple awards for excellence in teaching at the middle school, high school, and university levels. Currently, she works as Dean of Curriculum at St. Mary’s Catholic School, a PK-12th grade school in Taylor, TX. She also serves as a senior faculty member at the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education.

Allison Buras

Allison Buras is one of three founders of Live Oak Classical School, a Christian school devoted to liberal education that opened in 2004 in Waco, Texas. She has served as the Dean of the Grammar School for over a decade. She completed a Master’s in Theological Studies at Baylor’s Truett Seminary, has presented several times at Society for Classical Learning conferences, and currently serves as an Alcuin Fellow. She regularly hosts school visits to Live Oak where she mentors other school leaders in Christian schools engaged in a liberal arts education.

Alisha Barker

After teaching English as a second language in Taiwan and earning her MA in literature at Baylor University, Alisha Barker joined the faculty of a classical Christian school in Waco, Texas in 2009. She has taught first, fourth, and fifth grade and now serves as the Assistant Dean of the Grammar School. When her daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia and dysgraphia, she took a deep dive into the science of reading as she trained to become a certified academic language therapist (CALT). Her ability to offer dyslexia therapy, alongside her work as an administrator and ICLE’s literacy specialist, allows her to bring her experiences together to help support teachers and students alike in their pursuit of liberal arts education.

Merrill Roberts, Ph.D.

Dr. Roberts is a post-doctoral researcher at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD, where he studies solar coronal transients and performs forward modeling for the Parker Solar Probe mission. He received his Ph.D. in Physics from The Catholic University of America in 2018, where he is currently a lecturer, and his Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts from Thomas Aquinas College in 2003. He combines his passions for nature and education as the Nature Studies teacher at St. Jerome Academy where he has instructed 5th through 8th graders from 2010 to the present.

Andrew Seeley, Ph.D.

For three decades, Dr. Seeley has been a Tutor at Thomas Aquinas College in California. He received a Licentiate from the Pontifical Institute in Medieval Studies (Toronto) and a Ph.D. in Medieval Studies from the University of Toronto (1995). He has taught joyfully and extensively in all the areas of a Great Books curriculum. Desiring to share his love of Catholic learning, Dr. Seeley joined the Institute in 2005, currently serving as its Director of Advanced Formation.

Arthur Hippler, Ph.D.

Dr. Hippler is Chairman of the Religion Department at Providence Academy, where he has taught since 2006. He also teaches as an adjunct professor in St. Paul School of Divinity at the University of St. Thomas and as an instructor in the Harry Flynn Catechetical Institute for the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis. A graduate of Thomas Aquinas College in California, he received his Doctorate in Philosophy from Boston College. He is the author of four books, two on Catholic social teaching and two iBooks on C. S. Lewis.


The program has aided in deepening my vocation as a Catholic educator. The program has reignited the fire in my heart to continue to inspire our students in and out of the classroom.”


“I feel that I have found my desired vocation after this [program]. I left each day excited and filled, knowing I am being formed in how to share truth with my students and that there is a place and way to do it. I knew I wanted to share the Gospel with youth but did not know how after graduating college, and now I know how! Through teaching!”


“I have had a lot of technical training, but this training is helping me find the true beauty and goodness in my vocation.”


“I greatly appreciated the balance of seminar/ lecture with interactive lessons and time to engage with and practice the techniques given. I also enjoyed being able to observe [the instructors] utilize many of the strategies taught.”


“I appreciate the balance between practical application and formal instruction.”


“I am feeling much more prepared in classroom management… I feel I have good tools to start my classroom off with success and order.”