ICLE’s groundbreaking national alternative to state teacher licensure:

Catholic Educator

Formation and Credential


Siena Hall Conference Center on the Aquinas College campus, 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.

Upon successful completion of the CEFC program, graduates are eligible to receive up to nine hours of graduate credit with the following institutions:

The 2024-2025 cohort will be limited to 40 teachers at the K-12 teaching level.

The information presented here is specific to the national cohort. In addition to the national cohort, the CEFC is serving two other cohorts: one for the Archdiocese of Denver and Diocese of Colorado Springs and one for the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City and the Diocese of Tulsa. For information about bringing the CEFC to your diocese, please fill out this form.

Please view our brochure and recent program news:


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 29-August 2, 2024; January 16-20, 2025; and June 23-27, 2025
Location: Siena Hall Conference Center on the Aquinas College campus, 4210 Harding Pike, Nashville, TN 37205
Online components: Conducted via synchronous and asynchronous meetings; also includes teacher observations via video recordings.


Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree and a teaching position.


Applications for the 2024-2025 cohort are now being accepted. Review of the applications began February 1, 2024. Rolling admissions until all spots are filled. We will begin notifying accepted applicants on March 15, 2024.


Tuition: $5,900 plus books ($100-200)
Lodging/Meal Costs for three in-person gatherings: $1,975 total. Accommodations are provided at Aquinas College’s Siena Hall Conference Center, and all meals are provided.


Two payment options are offered. These plans cover the cost of tuition and lodging/meal costs for the in-person workshops.

  1. Monthly Payment Plan: $7,975
    1. $1,975 deposit required within 21 days of acceptance
    2. 15-month automatic, online payment plan ($400/month) beginning in September of year one and concluding in November of year two
  2. Pay in Full: $7,875*
    1. $1,975 deposit is required within 21 days of acceptance
    2. $5,900 remainder paid prior to September 30th of year one

*A $100 admin fee is waived for this payment option


Title funds (federal monies administered by your Local Educational Agency) may be available to help offset participant costs related to this program. Past participants in this program have successfully secured partial title funding. Please review some helpful information HERE.


A limited number of partial, needs-based scholarships are reserved specifically for clergy and vowed religious interested in participating in this program. If you are a member of the clergy or a vowed religious interested in applying for a scholarship, please complete this scholarship request form.


All payments are non-refundable.


For any questions on programming, please contact Dr. DeAnn Stuart, Associate Director of the Credential Program, at dstuart@CatholicLiberalEducation.org or 844-425-3832 x 711. For questions on financing, please contact Elisabeth Seeley, Operations Associate, at eseeley@CatholicLiberalEducation.org or 844-425-3832 x 705.

MEET YOUR Instructors:

Ryan Messmore, Ph.D.

Dr. Messmore brings to ICLE a broad range of educational leadership and teaching experience grounded in a theological framework. He will join the Institute on June 1 after completing his service as the President of Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts in New Hampshire. Previously, he served as President of Campion College in Australia. Dr. Messmore has also worked as Senior Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, Executive Director of the Millis Institute (Australia), and Assistant Headmaster for Academic Affairs at St. David’s School, in Raleigh, NC. He earned a D.Phil. in Theology from the University of Oxford, an M.Phil. in Theology from the University of Cambridge, an M.T.S. from Duke Divinity School, and an A.B. in Public Policy and Religion from Duke University. In 2017, he authored the book In Love: The Larger Story of Sex and Marriage. His commentary and analysis have appeared in newspapers such as The Washington Times and The Australian, online venues such as Crosswalk.com and FOXNews.com, and in national magazines such as First Things, Touchstone, and Comment. Dr. Messmore has four children (two in college) and lives with his wife and two daughters.

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.

Caitlin Dillon, Ph.D.

Caitlin Dillon’s primary aim is to follow God’s call with love and help others to do the same, especially through reading instruction and teacher-training. Her reliance on prayer, Ph.D. in Linguistics, and experience as a reading researcher provided the necessary foundation for her to successfully teach reading to students of all ages, as a classroom teacher, a reading specialist, and tutor. In 2016, Caitlin founded Mark Trinity, an organization through which she has been carrying out her mission to clarify effective approaches to reading instruction for teachers, as literacy coach, literacy consultant, and teacher-trainer. She enjoys continuing this mission through ICLE as well, relying on Saint Thomas Aquinas and other heavenly patrons to provide all that is needed.


If you have a specific question or would like to learn more about the CEFC program, please complete the form below.


“[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!” – Superintendent Elias J. Moo


“This experience was hospitable, empowering, refreshing. I was drawn into the depth and beauty of Catholic liberal education and equipped with everything I needed to confidently approach my first year of teaching.”


“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!”


“This really has been the best education/preparation for teaching that I have received. It is both theological/theoretical, but also down-to-earth and practical and applicable. I feel truly blessed to be a part of this program.”


“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 am so inspired! It’s easy to start to fall flat in my enthusiasm for teaching, but now I have so many tools to encourage wonder in myself and in my students.”


“Each time I come here I am more confident that this type of Catholic education is the correct one and the one that will help these students discover Truth and reach Heaven.”


“I learned so much more about my Catholic faith and teaching the whole child with an eye toward getting them to Heaven and creating saints. This has changed my perspective completely and I’m excited to bring it back to my school.”