sdavisDr. Sue Davis
Acting Education Chair and Director of Teacher Education

Phone: 434-791-5741
Office: FRITH 420

Tall, impeccably groomed Dr. Sue Davis landed a helicopter on the school grounds. She didn’t fly it, but she arranged for it to be there.

She has always believed that students of all ages benefit from interesting experiences, and when she was teaching elementary school, she brought in that helicopter. And an ambulance. And a police car … all on the same day. The kids were beside themselves with glee.

“Everything was exciting,” she says, “but the helicopter, whoa, it was by far the winner. It was a great day, in that they had all of these mysteries explained to them. They learned how all of those things are used, how they help people, how they function and look and feel. I’m confident that they saw all of those things differently from that day on.”

It started early in Davis’s teaching career, this never-done-this-before experiential teaching and learning. When she first taught, she took many students to a real, working farm with all sorts of animals.

As soon as they got there, they would carry their box lunches to a creek … that was a one-hour walk away.

“Whenever we arrived at the creek — the very first creek most of these inner-city kids had ever seen in person — we would always just sit. Sit and listen. They were amazed that a place could exist with no radios, no cars, no city sounds in the silence. And then we’d slowly start to notice things — birds, grasshoppers … country sounds.”

Now, happily, Davis directs Averett professors who teach teachers. That means that her endless enthusiasm for helping young people, for using exciting and hands-on experiences and tools … all of that is going to many teachers and countless students.

At the age of 17, Sue Davis got married (to her current husband!) and entered Averett. “For the first time in my life, I was in a life — Averett’s — where it was OK to be, well, a nerd. There is NO question that the professional I have become is due to Averett.”

A former superintendent of schools, she explains: “My preference, even as a teenager, was to be organized, to do the work, to study … and that was fine at Averett. It was a very formative time in my life, and Averett had high expectations. If something’s not done the right way, do it over. Keep doing it until it’s right.”

Davis adds that Averett still has high expectations, and she is glad of that. “Truly, it opened my mind to what I could do, and I gained tremendous self-confidence. When I got to the end of my time at Averett [as a student], I knew what I needed to know, and I was ready for the next steps.”

She wants high school students to know that the Averett campus is very diverse: “It’s easy to make new friends here, and the liberal arts provide many, many different areas of study to explore. You will grow as a person here.”


Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies, Educational Administration, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)

Doctor of Education, Educational Administration, Virginia Tech

Graduate coursework, non-degree seeking, the University of Virginia

Master of Education, Curriculum and Instruction, Averett University

Bachelor of Science, Early Childhood Education, Averett University


pamreidelDr. Pam Riedel, Professor of Education

Phone: 434-791-5744
Office: Frith Hall 428

“Students don’t stay at Averett University,” says Dr. Pamela Riedel, “for the same reason they first come here. They enroll for all kinds of reasons — they like the campus, they see a lot of opportunities, they like the athletics, etc. — but they stay because they learn that with the help of their faculty members, they can succeed.”

Riedel says that the bonds formed between Averett faculty and students are critical to the Averett experience: “We set our expectations high, and then we help our students meet and exceed those expectations. We enable our students; we work with them very personally and we watch them grow. That’s the kind of relationship this university is known for, and it is very rewarding to all of us.”She adds that the individualized emphasis on the students’ growth is not something you’re likely to find in universities larger than Averett. “The kind of mentoring that we provide — the personalized, continuous interaction between students and faculty — that really is the way our students come to understand that yes, they can succeed,” she says.

Her message to high school students who are considering enrolling at Averett is this: “Don’t be afraid. It’s a big, new world for you now, and it is filled with possibilities. You should be eager to explore them all … and we are here to help.”

Part of that helping includes travel. Realizing that professional conferences provide invaluable experiences, she takes the Education students to a conference every semester. She also provides field trips to alternative programs, including The Hatcher Center for adults and children with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the Council for Exceptional Children in Lynchburg and the North Carolina Reading Association in Raleigh.  Not far enough? She’s taking students to London and then to the University of Wales (Prifysgol Cymru in Welsh) to study. She went there in 2011 to meet with the administrators and to see the Welsh schools. Now it’s time for Averett students to do the same.

She says that the Education students at Averett are bright, enthusiastic, energetic and — equally important — passionate. “Know your passion, live your passion, teach,” she says. “That’s the way to make a positive change for the future. Our Education majors know it, and it’s why they are so committed.”


Doctor of Education, Educational Administration with an emphasis in Special Education, The College of William and Mary

Educational Specialist, Educational Administration with an emphasis in Special Education, The College of William and Mary

Graduate studies, the University of Virginia, toward endorsements in Special Education Teacher Licensure

Master of Education, Reading Specialization, Averett College

Bachelor of Science, Elementary Education with an emphasis in teaching grades 4-7 and Developmental Reading K-12, Averett College


Brenner-2836Dr. Aimee Brenner,
Assistant Professor of Education

Phone: 434-791-5048
Office: Danville Hall 108B

From her first days in college, Dr. Aimee M. Brenner knew the importance of good teachers, knew that she wanted to be one. And now? “With all of the issues and challenges that swallow some of the kids today, I feel that creating effective teachers is even more important than ever.”

She says that teaching in Averett’s Education Department gives her a chance to see that Education students who truly feel a passion for teaching can become the best they can be.

Part of that involves using emerging technologies, a specialty of hers: “Among the tools I want to give them are methods of integrating technology into their classrooms.”  She has chosen to teach at Averett because: “The personal interactions with students, the small classes and the overall nurturing environment of a small liberal arts school are very appealing. At [a large state school] I saw many young students turned loose and run amok. That can happen in a large school, whereas at Averett we can pay more attention to students, focus on their academics and more. After all, what happens outside the classroom affects them in class, as well.”

Even though she is a scholar, eager to do follow-up work on her doctoral dissertation on Teacher Education and Technology Integration, she is a teacher first and foremost. “That’s what faculty are expected to do here, focus on teaching. Scholarship and outreach are good, but we’re here for the students.”  Brenner adds that many of the students new to the Education Department are there to see if they want to teach, and some decide not to: “The good thing is that Averett gives them a chance to learn who they are, what their passions are in life.”

The closeness of the Averett community, a major factor in her deciding to work at Averett, was evident to her when she interviewed for the job. “I’ve never been at any other college or university where the President of the institution invites students to her home to get their opinion about things. She [Averett President Dr. Tiffany Franks] does that.   “Also I‘ve never felt I could just contact the President about anything, but I know I can here. It’s important that the Averett leadership values the students and what they think about the school and what could improve it. That says a lot. That attitude trickles down. The faculty members are happy to do that.”


Doctor of Philosophy, Curriculum and Instruction, focus in Instructional Design and Technology, Virginia Tech

Master of Arts, Curriculum and Instruction, focus on English Education, Virginia Tech

Master of Science, Administration and Supervision, Radford University

Bachelor of Arts, English, James Madison University