Six charter school teachers in pursuit of their teacher licensure through CUW share how their studies are already impacting their classrooms.

In the ever-evolving landscape of education, partnerships emerge as catalysts for progress and empowerment. In this realm of influential partnerships, the collaborative bond between The Lincoln Academy (TLA), an esteemed public charter school in Beloit, Wisconsin, and Concordia University Wisconsin, emerges as a guiding light of transformative potential for educators. This compelling narrative unfolds as six dedicated TLA staff members embark on a journey through Concordia’s online teacher licensure programs, shaping not only their professional trajectories but also contributing significantly to the thriving success of TLA.

Dr. Kristi Cole

Building careers at TLA

Since its inception in 2021, Concordia University Wisconsin has been instrumental in fostering a robust partnership with The Lincoln Academy. Dr. Kristi Cole, the visionary Chief Education Officer of TLA, highlights the transformative impact of this collaboration.

“Concordia’s focus on developing strong teachers and understanding the needs of individuals in their program has been instrumental to the success of our staff,” she notes.

Flexibility and flourishing

Crucial to this partnership is the flexibility offered by CUW’s online instruction. The delivery format allows TLA staff to seamlessly balance work and education. Dr. Cole emphasizes the positive environment created by Concordia, enabling TLA staff to flourish both personally and professionally. This flexibility is especially crucial for TLA’s educational assistants, who find unique opportunities to transition into teaching roles fully prepared.

Dr. Adam Paape, the assistant dean within the School of Education at CUW, shares in the enthusiasm. “It has been an absolute delight to work with Dr. Cole and her dedicated team at the Lincoln Academy,” Paape says.

Hector Gonzalez

He commends TLA’s commitment to supporting students. He has seen first-hand the school’s top-notch teaching and learning environment in action during his multiple school visits.

Voices from the field

Hector Gonzalez is an educational assistant at TLA pursuing a bachelor’s degree in secondary education mathematics at CUW. He reflects on the positive atmosphere at TLA. He expresses gratitude for the connection between Concordia and TLA, making it easier to pursue his degree. Hector’s journey, spanning 23 years in the education field, exemplifies the collaborative spirit between the schools that has enabled him to pursue his degree seamlessly.

Hector shares, “Being able to do my field clinicals while working in the field is a blessing. I can’t wait to become a licensed teacher. I’m eager to continue to touch the lives of the scholars, but in my own classroom.”

Full-time teaching dreams

The partnership extends beyond educational assistants, embracing TLA staff enrolled in CUW’s post-baccalaureate programs. These educators serve as full-time teachers at TLA while taking CUW courses online. Casey Naber, an online post-baccalaureate student pursuing Secondary Education – Science licensure, appreciates the convenience of online coursework and looks forward to student teaching on-the-job at TLA.

Casey Naber

“All of my professors have been so helpful and flexible,” Casey says. “We all know how busy life can get, and the professors at Concordia work with you as much as possible to accommodate you.”

Scholarship discounts and shared success

As an academic community partner, TLA staff enjoy scholarship discounts on graduate and adult accelerated coursework at Concordia. This financial support further solidifies the mutually beneficial nature of the collaboration, reinforcing the notion that success is shared.

Influencing the K-12 education landscape together

The partnership between The Lincoln Academy and Concordia University Wisconsin stands as a testament to the transformative power of collaboration in education. This narrative of growth, flexibility, and shared success not only empowers TLA staff members in their educational pursuits but also enriches the learning environment at TLA. Dr. Kristi Cole’s insightful words resonate with the essence of this collaboration, stating, “This relationship has been a win-win for both of our educational institutions and most importantly for our young scholars at The Lincoln Academy.” As we celebrate this impactful alliance, it not only exemplifies the positive outcomes of collaborative efforts but also extends an invitation for other K-12 schools to explore similar transformative partnerships with Concordia University Wisconsin. This invitation carries the promise of creating a ripple effect—a wave of empowerment and success in the broader education landscape.


Concordia University Wisconsin is a Lutheran higher education community committed to helping students develop in mind, body, and spirit for service to Christ in the Church and the world. Our Education programs focus on optimizing your abilities to serve students, schools, and the community through education. We develop well-rounded educational professionals that can teach and lead in rural and urban communities. With a Christian-centered focus, relevant curriculum, and engaging faculty you can play a meaningful role in the world of education.

—This article is written by Adam Paape, EdD, Assistant Dean of Education at Concordia.