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Notable Faculty

Capella's School of Education faculty members are active and experienced in their professions, and nearly all members hold a doctoral degree. From P–12 teachers, administrators, and higher education faculty to leadership, curriculum designers, and grant writers, our faculty hold top academic credentials in the areas they teach and many are published authors. Noteworthy contributions include sitting on the Executive Board for the National Association of Community and Technical Colleges, directing an Ojibwe Language and Culture Education program, and creating a middle college high school of 240 students on a college campus.

Amy Smith, PhD

Dean, School of Education

Dr. Amy Smith serves as Dean for the School of Education. In her 25-year career in education, she has held leadership positions in both public and private P-12 education, beginning as a high school English teacher, with increasing leadership roles as department chair, Principal, and eventually leading teams in building charter schools. Dr. Smith’s higher education experience began as a professor of education at Kent State University and Western Oregon University, with continued leadership as a Department Chair at Concordia University Chicago and a Dean at the University of Phoenix. Her service includes authoring sections the national teacher preparation standards for the National Council Teachers of English, being an assistant editor for the Journal of Curriculum and Pedagogy, member of a charter school network Board of Directors, and columnist for a trade publication where she provided soft-skills career advice for multiple magazines and audiences. Dr. Smith holds a PhD in Educational Leadership: Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Denver, a MEd in administration and supervision from National-Louis University in Chicago, an MA in secondary education from the University of Akron, and a BA in English from the University of Colorado..

Nan Thornton, PhD

FACULTY CHAIR

Dr. Thornton holds a PhD in Educational Psychology with specialization in Learning and Instructional Technology from Arizona State University, and an MS in Speech and Hearing with a specialization in Education of the Hearing Impaired from Washington University in St. Louis. Dr. Thornton has worked in the field of instructional design and technology for more than 20 years. Her professional experience includes teaching graduate courses in instructional technology and e-learning design at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania; working with university faculty at the University of Nebraska at Kearney to implement e-learning components; designing and delivering classroom training for Allen Interactions; and managing teams working on the custom design and development of e-learning projects for corporate clients at Allen Interactions. Dr. Thornton's research interests focus on the psychology of learning and instruction, including instructional strategies that influence retention and transfer, problem-based learning, and cognitive processing of complex information.