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School ofEducation and Psychology

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Why Education and Psychology?

The mission of the School of Education and Psychology at Southern Adventist University is to prepare effective Christian professionals who demonstrate a commitment to the pursuit of truth, wholeness, and a life of service in a diverse society.

The School of Education and Psychology provides exceptional degrees in a wide variety of fields.


  • Teacher education programs prepare students for careers in diverse areas of instruction with tools to create an innovative learning environment.
  • The psychology program provides a solid foundation in the study of the human mind and behavior.
  • Our graduates are in high demand; Southern places more students in teaching positions than other Adventist colleges and universities in North America.


  • Southern's outdoor education program develops professionals to effectively use God's book of nature in teaching and outdoor programming.
  • The clinical mental health counseling program trains counselors to work with individuals, families, and groups to address and treat mental and emotional disorders and to provide optimum mental health.
  • The school counseling program trains counselors to address students' academic, career, personal and social development and help maximize their achievement.

Interesting Facts


  • In addition to be approved by the Tenneesse Board of Education, programs are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation as well as the Accrediting Association of Seventh-day Adventist Schools, Colleges and Universities. This gives students the option to qualify for teaching or school counseling licensure throughout the United States.
  • Southern students consistently score above state and national  averages on the Praxis II exams. 
  • Southern partners with local schools to provide teacher candidates with opportunities to work with students (pre-school through 12th grade) in both suburban and urban schools as well as multigrade classrooms. Students spend one full semester teaching and observing in at least two different classrooms while receiving guidance from seasoned teachers. 
  • Graduates consistently cite the relationships they develop with their education professors and the mentoring they receive as being strengths of the program. 
  • Discipleship for Educators is a three-phase initiative designed  to prepare educators to actively disciple children and youth.


  • The broad offering of emphases allows students to pursue health-related professions as well as careers as therapists and counselors. Graduates also compliment business majors with a solid knowledge of human relationships in organizational settings.
  • A strong practicum program allows for hands-on experience prior to graduation.
  • Each degree provides an emphasis on conducting and reporting individual research.
  • Southern students score well above the national average on comparative data exams in the areas of clinical and abnormal psychology and in research methodology.
  • Since 1994, Southern has had an active Psi Chi chapter that inducts about 10 students each year. Psi Chi is an international honor society that encourages, stimulates, and maintains excellence in Psychology. Psi Chi members work to bridge academic excellence and community needs.

Family Studies 

  • The family studies degree is interdisciplinary in nature and leads students to gain an understanding of individuals and families.


  • John McCoy, PhDJohn McCoy, PhDDean
  • Bonnie Eder, EdDBonnie Eder, EdDAssociate Professor, Education
  • Cathy Olson, MACathy Olson, MAAssociate Professor, Education
  • Cristy Pratt, MACristy Pratt, MAAssistant Professor, Psychology
  • Faith Laughlin, MAFaith Laughlin, MAAssociate Professor, Education
  • Freddy Fuentes, MAFreddy Fuentes, MAAssociate Professor, Education
  • Krystal Bishop, EdDKrystal Bishop, EdDProfessor, Education
  • Ileana Freeman, PhDIleana Freeman, PhDProfessor, Counseling
  • Ruth Williams, PhDRuth Williams, PhDProfessor, Psychology
  • Tron Wilder, PhDTron Wilder, PhDAssistant Professor, Psychology and Counseling
  • Matthew Tolbert, MSMatthew Tolbert, MSAssistant Professor
  • Tami Navalon, MATami Navalon, MAAssistant Professor

We have amazing
professors. You can
tell that they are
truly dedicated
to their students’
success. Erica Keeton, ’14Psychology major



Classrooms and Labs

The School of Education and Psychology is located in the newly renovated Summerour Hall. In addition to classrooms and offices, the building houses:

  • Teaching Materials Center houses more than 15,000 curriculum guides, textbooks, teachers' resources, literature for children and young adults, videos, CDs, educational games and activities, as well as many artifacts from around the world. The center inspires creativity and makes preparing bulletin boards and other teaching materials easy.
  • Computer Lab
  • Psychology Lab

Additionally, for graduate programs, the Outdoor Education Center just off University Drive provides rustic yet modern offices and classrooms with nearby non-traditional spaces, including:

  • Cherokee Council House with outdoor meeting space for classes and large groups
  • Challenge Course with a 60-foot climbing tower to facilitate training and team-building
  • Student Park Cave with nearly a mile of passageways to explore and the Goliath Wall with a 200x50-foot natural rock climbing area
  • White Oak Mountain and Bauxite Ridge Trails providing miles of backcountry access

Faculty members practice industry recognized safety protocols to ensure student safety in outdoor setting.


  • Administrator 
  • Camp or Program Director
  • Counselor: Clinical Mental Health, School 
  • Language School/ ESL
  • Manager
  • Missionary
  • Museum/Aquarium Educators
  • Neuroscientist 
  • Psychologist: Clinical, Counseling, Health, Organizational, Sports
  • Teacher: Elementary, Secondary, Higher Education
  • Therapist


Asti Conibear


I am a part
   of Southern.
You should be too! Zanzabar JonesSophmore