Faculty and Staff

Debra Ponec, Ed.D., NCC, Chair

University of Nebraska -  Lincoln
Professor of Education

Dr. Debra L.  Ponec earned her doctorate in Curriculum, Instruction, and Administration at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln with a focus in foundations of education and school counseling.  She possesses masters degrees in Elementary School Counseling (Creighton University) and Special Education - Learning Disabilities (University of Nebraska - Omaha.)  Prior to coming to Creighton, Dr. Ponec taught special education classes for Omaha Public Schools and was an elementary school counselor within the Archdiocese of Omaha.

Dr. Ponec currently teaches graduate-level courses in Counselor Education and the foundations course within the initial professional sequence in teacher education.  Her research interests include guidance and counseling curriculum for public/private schools and program evaluation, building professional relationships within school communities, and integrating immigrant students and their families within school communities.  Dr. Ponec is co-author of Growing in Love: a Guidance and Counseling Curriculum for Catholic Elementary Schools which was published by the National Catholic Education Association.  She recently completed an immersion project providing insight to schools for the integration of immigrant students and their families.  Dr. Ponec is available for speeches, presentations, workshops, or school consulting related to guidance and counseling curriculum and programs and for designing curriculum and/or experiences for integrating all students within the school community.


Lynne E. Houtz, Ph.D., Associate Chair

University of Nebraska -Lincoln
Associate Chair
Professor of Education

Lynne Houtz did undergraduate study at the College of Saint Teresa, University of Nebraska, and earned her B.S. degree in Elementary Education from Kent State University in 1971.  Her 23-year public school teaching career includes grades 4,5,6,7,8 in Ohio, Illinois and Nebraska.  She was simultaneously a perpetual student, doing graduate study at Kent State, the Ohio State University, University of Nebraska at Omaha, University of Iowa, and Purdue University.  Lynne accumulated additional teaching endorsements in Music, Middle Level, Social Sciences, and Science.  In 1985 she earned a Masters in Elementary Science Education from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, and in 1992, her PhD in Administration, Curriculum and Instruction in Science and Math Education from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln.  She served as the Science Supervisor for Omaha Public Schools prior to entering academia.  Lynne taught science and math education courses at the University  of Nebraska-Lincoln, Wayne State College, Nebraska Wesleyan University and is now Professor of Science and Mathematics Education at Creighton University.

Dr. Houtz's research and application works related to improving science education for all have been shared at national and international venues, including Brazil, Prague, Athens, Paris and Italy.  Publication venues include the Journal of Research in Science Teaching, Journal of Elementary Science Education, Journal of Science Education for Students with Disabilities, Science and Children, Science Scope, Science Education Review, Journal of the National Medical Association, Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, Academic Medicine, and The International Journal of Learning.  Lynne has been involved with numerous grant projects, including outreach programs by biomedical sciences funded by AAMC, HHMI, NASA and NAIDA.  She is available for consulting to school districts, medical schools and health science divisions.



Timothy Cook, Ph.D.

Boston College
Director of Educational Leadership
Professor of Education

Dr. Cook earned his Ph.D. in Curriculum, Instruction, and Administration at Boston College.  He served as the chief administrator of a Catholic junior-senior high school in Rhode Island before coming to Creighton.  Dr. Cook teaches a broad range of undergraduate and graduate courses in secondary school teaching methods, foundations of Catholic education, and school leadership.  His research interests include Catholic school charism, religion teacher preparation, and mission-centered faith school leadership.  He is the author of Architects of Catholic Culture:  Designing & Building Catholic Culture in Catholic Schools.  Since his book's publication, Dr. Cook has become recognized as an expert on Catholic school identity and culture issues stateside and abroad.  Dr. Cook is available for speeches, presentations, workshops, or school consulting related to the following topics:

  • exploring Catholic identity in 21st century schools, measuring religious mission effectiveness, strengthening Catholic school character and culture
  • contemplating the charism of Catholic education for a modern age
  • leading and teaching mission


C. Timothy Dickel, Ed.D., NCC

Indiana University - Bloomington
Professor of Education (Primary Appointment)

Charles Timothy (Tim) Dickel is currently Professor of Education.  He received his bachelor's degree in psychology from Whitman College, Wall Walla, Washington, a master's degree in counseling and doctorate in counselor education from Indiana University.  He holds a graduate certificate in gerontology from the University of Nebraska at Omaha.  Dr. Dickel teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in child and adolescent development in Creighton's teacher education program, as well as Issues in Child and Adolescent Development for School Counselors, Theoretical Perspectives in School Counseling, Data-Driven Perspectives in School Counseling, Career Perspectives for Children and Adolescents, Group Counseling Approaches for Children and Adolescents - Group Dynamics, Group Counseling Approaches for Children and Adolescents - Classroom Guidance, and Group Counseling Approaches for Children and Adolescents - Small Group Counseling in the master's program in counseling, and a senior perspective course on "Violence in America" in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Dickel has published on such subjects as prevention models for mental health, counseling in gerontology, adult development, technology skills in teacher and counselor education, and Jesuit values in distance education. 

Dr. Dickel serves as a member of several community boards.  He has also been a grant evaluator for the City of Omaha's domestic violence grant activities. He has also served Catholic education as a member of the school boards of St. James/Seton, St. Pius/St. Leo's and the Archdiocese of Omaha.

Dr. Dickel has held leadership positions at Creighton as chair of the Education Department, assistant to the dean and associate dean of the Creighton College of Arts and Sciences, and dean of University College and Summer Sessions.

Dr. Dickel is available for presentations, workshops, and consultations related to

  • distance education
  • primary mental health prevention activities
  • understanding and dealing with violence in communities
  • reflective practice in teaching, counseling, and leadership
  • assessment and evaluation of curriculum and grants



Beverly A. Doyle, Ph.D.

University of Nebraska - Lincoln
Coordinator of Special Education
Associate Professor of Education

Dr. Doyle serves as Coordinator of Special Education and indicates that "working with exceptional students is my vocation and avocation."  Holding a doctorate from the University of Lincoln-Nebraska, she is certified as a special educator and school psychologist, and is a licensed psychologist in Nebraska. 

Prior to coming to Creighton University she taught at the Omaha Women's Job Corps and at Glenwood State Hospital School.  She was a therapist at Monroe-Meyer Childrens Rehabilitation Institute and worked as a school psychologist for the Omaha Public Schools.  Dr. Doyle has written numerous articles and two books that deal with students who have behavioral and learning problems. Currently she is working on a book designed to help educators work with students experiencing mental health problems.  Another interest and area of expertise is assessment.  She has presented at conferences nationally and internationally on this topic.

Dr. Doyle is available for speeches, presentations, workshops and consultation relating to issues of handicapping conditions, mental health problems, and assessment concerns.  She can be reached at bdoyle@creighton.edu.


Max Engel, Ph.D.

The Catholic University of America
Resident Assistant Professor

Raised in western Michigan, Max Engel graduated from Boston College with a BA in English Literature.  He then taught literature, writing, and theology in Catholic high schools for eight years, earning an MEd from the University of Notre Dame in that time.  He then earned an MA in Theology and a PhD in Religious Education/Catechetics from The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. 

Currently, he teaches undergraduate theology as well as education courses to both graduate and undergraduate students.  His research interests focus on educational methods, pedagogy for theological instruction, religious education and catechesis, and Catholic school teacher preparation.

Dr. Engel currently lives in Omaha with his wife and four children.


Jean Hearn, M.S.

Creighton University
Early Childhood Education 
Resident Instructor

Jean Hearn completed her undergraduate work at the University of Georgia and her master's of science in education at University of Omaha.  She is currently pursuing doctoral work at Creighton University in the Doctor of Educational Leadership Program.  She has three children, three dogs, and a wonderfully supportive husband.  Jean has spent the majority of her career teaching in both public and Catholic schools.  She is passionate about early childhood education and plans to do research in this area.

Ms. Hearn's office is located in the Eppley Building.


Ann Mausbach, Ph.D.

University of Kansas
Educational Leadership
Assistant Professor

Ann Mausbach has spent the last 20 years in K-12 education leading, teaching, and learning.  She has worked in both wealthy and impoverished districts and with new veteran administrators.  These experiences have led her to focus her work on providing educational leaders with the tools they need to lead school change.  In 2008 she co-authored a book titled Align the Design, that outlined these processes.  Her current research interests include leadership practices that have the greatest impact on student learning, literacy leadership practices, and sustaining school improvement efforts.  


Lynn E. Olson, Ph.D.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Director of Elementary Education
Associate Professor of Education

Dr. Lynn Olson earned her Ph.D. in Curriculum, Instruction, and Administration at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln and included a K-12 administration certificate.  Her M.S. was from the University of Nebraska in Omaha and included a K-12 endorsement as a Literacy Specialist.

Dr. Olson has taught in elementary schools in the Omaha area as well as in eastern North Carolina.  She was an instructional facilitator/literacy specialist in Millard Public Schools prior to coming to Creighton University.  She was also an adjunct instructor at UNL and UNO.

Dr. Olson is the Director of the Elementary Education program, including both the undergraduate and the new M.S. endorsement programs.  She teaches most of the literacy courses offered through the Education Department, including the three required courses and related practicum at the elementary levels and the content area literacy program in the secondary education program.

Dr. Olson's current research areas include content area reading and early childhood education.



Father Tom Simonds, S.J., Ed.D.

Creighton University (current positions)
Director of Secondary Education
Associate Professor of Education
University of San Francisco Doctor of Education, 2005

Tom Simonds, S.J., Ed.D. is a Catholic priest and associate professor of Education at Creighton University in Omaha, NE, USA. His primary teaching and advising focus is the preparation of middle school and high school teachers.  Before teaching at the college level, Tom Simonds held a number of teaching and leadership positions in secondary schools.  Tom Simonds is the author of more than fifteen articles on faith-based values education, school violence prevention, bullying prevention, and online learning.


Simonds, T.A. (2010).  Advent and Christmas reflections:  Ideas for teaching the Catholic faith in the home, school, and parish.  Washington, DC:  National Catholic Educational Association. www.ncea.org

Simonds, T.A. (2009).  School violence prevention workbook:  Stopping harassment and hazing.  Washington, D.C.:  National Catholic Educational Association.  www.ncea.org

Selected Peer Reviewed Journal Articles:

Simonds, T. A., & Brock, B. L. (2014).  Relationship between age, experience, and student preference for types of learning activities in online courses.  Journal of Educators Online, 11(1), http://thejeo.com

Simonds, T.A. (2014).  Resources and strategies to address bullying.  Momentum, 45(1), 37-39.  Also available at http://www.readperiodicals.com

Simonds, T. A., & Brock, B. L. (2013).  Discovering effective ways to teach online.  The International Journal of Technologies in Learning.  19(2), 93-106.

Simonds, T. A. (2012).  Violent incidents in religiously affiliated K-12 schools in the United States.  Law Enforcement Executive Forum, 12(2), 113-122.

Cook, T. J., & Simonds, T. A. (2011).  The charism of 21st century Catholic schools:  Building a culture of relationships.  Catholic Education:  A Journal of Inquiry and Practice, 14(3), 319-233.

Simonds, T.A. (2010). School crisis planning:  A case study.  Law Enforcement Executive Forum, 10(4), 57-65.

Simonds, T.A. (2009).  Violence prevention in United States Society of Jesus secondary schools.  Journal of School Violence, 8(2), 191-204.  http://eric.ed.gov



Jeffrey M. Smith, Ph.D., NCC, PLMHP

Kent State University - BS., M.Ed., Ph.D.
Director of Counseling
Associate Professor of Education

Dr. Smith earned his Ph.D. in Counseling and Human Development Services and completed all other degree work at Kent State University, Kent, OH.  He also holds a masters Degree in Health and Safety Education, and a Bachelors degree in Social Studies.  Since his arrival at Creighton, Dr. Smith has taught exclusively in the graduate program teaching courses, Educational Research, Appraisal in Counseling, Diagnosis in Counseling, as well as Counseling Diverse Populations, and Community Mental Health.

Dr. Smith's research focus centers on:

  • Men's use and avoidance of mental health counseling,
  • Interdisciplinary professional collaboration to enhance the client/patient treatment regime,
  • Graduate student research, presentation, and publication preparation,
  • Horticultural counseling

Dr. Smith is available for workshops and presentations, and has consulted on topics related to research grant - program evaluation, community research development, workplace conflict resolution, family counseling and Biblical counseling related issues.


Lillie Gayle Smith, Ph.D.

Kent State University
Assistant Professor


Edward B. O'Connor, Ph.D.

University of Nebraska, Lincoln 
Elementary and Secondary Education and Administration
Professor Emeritus of Education

W. Patrick Durow, Ph.D.

Iowa State University
Educational Leadership
Professor Emeritus of Education


Colleen Keller-Chiacchere, M.Ed.

Loyola University Chicago
Assistant Director of Magis Teacher Corps

Colleen is originally from the New York City region and received her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Religious Studies from Fordham University in the Bronx.  She has taught kindergarten at Red Cloud Indian School on the Pine Ridge Reservation in western South Dakota and at St. Frances of Rome Catholic School, near Chicago.

 While completing her Master of Education in Elementary Education, Colleen was a member of the Loyola University Chicago Opportunities in Catholic Education (LU-CHOICE) program, a fellow UCCE program, similar to Magis Catholic Teacher Corps.  During that time, she taught kindergarten, lived in community, completed her graduate studies and prayed the Spiritual Exercises (retreat in everyday life).

Colleen has been active with the University Consortium for Catholic Education since 2006 and with Magis Catholic Teacher Corps since 2008 and formally joined the department in July 2009.


Kate Linden, M.Ed.

University of Notre Dame
Director of Magis Catholic Teacher Corps

Kate Linden is a passionate advocate for Catholic schools.  Born and raised in Omaha, Kate is a life-long product of Catholic education.

Prior to joining Magis, Kate spent 10 months working for the NorthStar Foundation and Outward Bound Omaha as the director of development.  During this time, Kate's primary project was to establish a "Parochial School Adventure Fund" providing financial assistance to students in under resourced Catholic schools.

Kate has been an educational innovator, piloting a reciprocal teaching program in Ethiopia in 2005 and then, in 2011,  partnering with the Avenue Scholars Foundation and the Creighton University College of Business in the creation of a service learning course called Innovation and Integration in Bakery.

Kate received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Saint Louis University in Theology and Spanish and her Masters in Education from the University of Notre Dame's ACE Program.


Scott McClure, M.Ed.

Assistant Director
Magis Catholic Teacher Corps

Scott is a native Nebraskan, born in Omaha and is also a product of Catholic education.  He received his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science (Phi Beta Kappa) from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  Upon graduating, Scott joined the University of Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education, through which he attained his Master of Education and taught high school Social Studies and Religion in Pensacola, Florida.

Scott has spent the majority of his career in education serving Catholic high schools in Florida and Louisiana in such capacities as teacher, department head, retreat coordinator, and club moderator, among others.  Prior to joining Magis, Scott taught in a private school in Puerto Rico and concurrently earned an endorsement in teaching English as a New Language from the University of Notre Dame. 


Chrys Townsend-Frey, M.S.

Director of Field Experiences and Certification

In November of 2011, Mrs. Chrys Townsend-Frey   joined the staff in the Education Department as the Director of Field Experiences and Certification.  Chrys served the students, families, and teachers of the Bellevue Public School system for 25 years as a teacher and administrator.  Her experience also includes working with the University of Nebraska in Omaha supervising student teachers and working as an academic advisor with Buena Vista University.  She continues to partner with Concordia University as an adjunct professor in their graduate program for curriculum and instruction, literacy, and educational administration. 

Chrys is very passionate about mentoring to all teachers, but has a fondness for helping to develop skills in student teachers and teachers new to the field.  She has partnered with Girls and Boys Town as a trainer and consultant with their education model since 1994, and brings those skills to her new position.  Chrys acquired her Master of Science in Educational Administration from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1991 and her Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln in 1985.  Chrys may be reached at chrys@creighton.edu or 402.280.3583.


Carol Sudduth

Sr. Administrative Assistant

Carol Sudduth joined the Education Department in March of 2007 as an administrative assistant.  She is responsible for providing administrative support to the Chair and department faculty; as well as, maintaining the budget and student records.   She began her teacher education career at Dana College in Blair, Nebraska where she was the administrative assistant in the Education Department for over 13 years.  During that time she also coordinated and directed statewide math/science conferences for teachers and students.


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