college of continuing professional studies

Two of Missouri’s best new teachers trained at Drury

Two of Missouri’s best new teachers received their professional training from Drury’s College of Continuing Professional Studies.

Callie Beard, an elementary school teacher in the Lebanon school district, and Fernando Sustaita, a middle school teacher at Nixa, were recently given the Outstanding Beginning Teacher Award by the Missouri Association for Colleges of Teacher Education.

The recipients were selected based on evaluations of outstanding graduates completed by their college or university, and recommendations from the school districts where they teach.

Callie Beard teaches elementary school students in her Lebanon classroom.

Callie Beard teaches elementary school students in her Lebanon classroom.

“I was stunned, shocked and elated,” says Beard, who teaches social studies and communication arts to fifth graders.

After spending her first two years at another school, Beard switched gears seeking more financial flexibility and classes closer to her hometown of Lebanon. She took classes through Drury’s Springfield, St. Robert and Lebanon campuses. Many of her instructors were teachers in the immediate area.

“They could draw from their own personal experience,” Beard says. “They had classroom examples ready; they were familiar faces.”

Sustaita knows about switching gears, too. After 15 years in the business world, he decided to make a career change and become a teacher. Now in his second year at a seventh grade history teacher in Nixa, he also coaches three sports (cross country, basketball and track), drives busses for the teams, serves on school committees.

“When I want to do something, I go in 110 percent,” he says. “I don’t hold back.”

Fernando Sustaita teaches history at Nixa, and also coaches cross country, basketball and track.

Fernando Sustaita teaches history at Nixa, and also coaches cross country, basketball and track.

Seeing students succeed drives him, Sustaita says. And that’s the same kind of treatment he received from his professors when he was a student earning a Master of Education at Drury, he says. In fact, he still reaches out to them for advice and mentorship, even after graduation.

“I trust the education system there,” he says. “I trusted my advisors. And I know that wherever I’m going to go, people are going to look at that degree and hold it to a high standard.”


Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations.

Vietnam veteran earns art degree — and respect from faculty

Drury art student Richard Hunter is proof that it’s never too late to learn something new. The 64-year-old graduated on Dec. 13 with an art degree. Hunter is a retired Vietnam veteran, and though he doesn’t consider himself a natural artist, he certainly has made an impression on his professors and classmates.

This year he received the Boyko Weltanschauung Award, which is presented to students who have made the biggest impact on art department faculty, and challenge instructors to re-examine their teaching strategies and think about why they teach. Hunter is just the second recipient in 11 years.

“As one of our older students, I find him completely open to critiques of his works and is one of the hardest working students that I have ever known,” said Rebecca Miller, a photography professor. “His life experiences bring so much to the classroom that he will be one of those students I will remember fondly for years to come because of his positive outlook on life.”

Richard Hunter in the ceramics workshop at Pool Art Center.

Richard Hunter in the ceramics workshop at Pool Art Center.

Hunter prefers working with ceramics and photography. As a beekeeper, he’s particularly inspired by bees and the hexagon shapes they make, which he’s incorporated into his art. He is also drawn to graffiti art and has photographed the traveling artwork on trains rolling through town.

One of Hunter’s biggest inspirations is his younger classmates.

“One of things I’ve absolutely loved is that I get to be around young artists and that I have had a chance to see art through their eyes,” said Hunter. “Being with young artists makes me feel young again! It stirs up my imagination.”

Hunter has also enjoyed working on the art department’s annual Veterans Day tradition of taking portrait photos of veterans free of charge. He would eventually like to start a volunteer art therapy program to aid disabled veterans.

“Art really helps disabled veterans to relax and seems to help heal people both mentally and physically,” said Hunter. “I just want to share what I have learned and maybe even learn from them.”

Hunter appreciated that his professors adjusted to his learning style and worked with him on an individual basis. The small school environment made him feel comfortable, he says.

“The teachers have really bent over backward to inspire me, encourage me to do good work and look at my art in different ways,” he says. “They’re willing to be more personal and they’re willing to listen.”


Story by Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, English and Writing major at Drury. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.

Drury named a “Military Friendly School” for fourth straight year

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Sept. 23, 2014 — For the fourth year in a row, Victory Media has recognized Drury University as a Military Friendly School. The 2015 Military Friendly Schools list honors the colleges, universities and trade schools doing the most to embrace America’s military service members, veterans and their spouses as students.

“Earning the 2014-2015 Military Friendly Schools designation puts Drury University in the top 20 percent of all eligible schools approved for G.I. Bill funding, and it tells prospective military students that Drury is pre-vetted with leading programs and policies to support military students,” says Sean Collins, Vice President at Victory Media, adjudicator of Military Friendly ratings and publisher of G.I. Jobs.

The Military Friendly Schools website ( features interactive lists and search tools to help military students find the best school to suit their unique needs and preferences. Those selected by Victory Media exhibit leading practices in the recruitment and retention of students with military experience.


Drury has a long tradition of serving those who have served our country. In the days after World War II, buses brought soldiers from Fort Leonard Wood to classes held on the Springfield campus. Today, one of Drury’s 11 branch locations is at Fort Leonard Wood.

“Being in the service can give a person the feelings of a fast-paced and stressful environment,” says Katelyn Vernon, president of the Drury chapter of Student Veterans of America. “But the thought of changing your path in life and returning to school is almost more stressful. Luckily, Drury is there with you every step of the way. The staff is knowledgeable of all the requirements from the Veterans Administration, which ensures everything is processed quickly and smoothly. I am proud that I had the opportunity to attend Drury and was able to share and influence other students with my experiences in the service.”

Victory Media’s annual Guide to Military Friendly Schools will be distributed in print and digital format to hundreds of thousands of active and former military personnel.

For more information on how Drury helps veterans find academic and career success, go to


Drury’s Aaron Jones will address Cox College graduates May 15

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., May 14, 2014 — Aaron Jones, Dean of Drury University’s College of Continuing Professional Studies, will deliver the keynote address to 186 graduates of Cox College at a commencement ceremony at 1 p.m. Friday, May 16, at the O’Reilly Family Event Center.

Drury’s College of Continuing Professional Studies (CCPS) and Cox College have been educational partners for more than 60 years. CCPS has provided general education and laboratory science courses for Cox College students, and the schools have partnered on dual degree programs at Drury’s Cabool and Monett locations. Jones has been an ex-officio member of the Cox College Board of Trustees since 2012.

“It is a pleasure to feature Mr. Aaron Jones as our commencement speaker,” says Cox College President Lance Ratcliff. “Aaron’s leadership is evident across many collaborative outreach efforts Cox College has with Drury University, highlighted by significant academic initiatives in both Cabool and Monett. The partnership between Cox College and Drury has been strengthened by Aaron’s guidance, benefitting many students at both institutions.”

Cox College is a private college of more than 850 students offering certificate programs, associate, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in health related fields such as: nursing, diagnostic imaging, nutrition, medical assisting, medical transcription, and medical billing/coding. It is affiliated with CoxHealth.


About Aaron Jones

Prior to his appointment as Dean of Drury’s CCPS, Jones was engaged in the full-time practice of law in Springfield and served as a member of Drury University’s Board of Trustees. He taught as an adjunct instructor for Drury from 2007 to 2011.

Jones received his Bachelor of Arts from Drury in 1995, and earned his Juris Doctor in 1998 and his Master of Laws in 2009 from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He was a member of the Young Lawyers Section Council of the Missouri Bar from 2004 to 2009, and from 2006 to 2008 served on the Missouri Bar’s Board of Governors as the Young Lawyers’ liaison. From 2007-2008 he was president of the Drury University Alumni Association. Jones is a member of King’s Way United Methodist Church, Rotary Club of Springfield (Downtown), the Abilities First board, and a number of other civic and professional organizations. He resides in Springfield with his wife, Cara, and children Kate, Carter and Caleb.


Drury, North Arkansas College sign reverse transfer agreement

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., May 5, 2014 — Drury University and North Arkansas College (Northark) in Harrison, Arkansas, have finalized a new agreement that enables students to retroactively earn an associate degree by combining their Northark credits with those earned at Drury.

The Reverse Transfer and Articulation Agreement allows Northark students to transfer back academic credits for course work completed at Drury to satisfy associate degree requirements. This means students who have earned some but not all of the required credits for an associate degree could be awarded both the two-year and four-year degrees at the same time, provided all requirements are satisfied.

In addition, Drury University and Northark are working together to provide students with transfer guides to outline coursework required for bachelor’s degree completion options through the College of Continuing Professional Studies (CCPS) at Drury.

“This agreement allows both Northark and Drury to help our respective students complete their degrees and get the recognition they deserve,” says Aaron Jones, Dean of Drury CCPS. “It gives them credit where credit is due and makes them more attractive to employers.”

As part of the agreement, Drury is extending a 10 percent reduction in tuition costs for all Northark students pursuing a bachelor’s degree from Drury CCPS if the student has earned an associate degree from Northark. Drury is also extending a 10 percent reduction in tuition costs for all Northark employees seeking a bachelor’s degree from Drury CCPS.

A celebration ceremony with representatives from both institutions was held on April 29 at on Northark’s Center Campus in Harrison.

For more information, contact: Aaron Jones, Drury CCPS Dean, (417) 873-6829 or; or Kristy Nelson, CCPS Director of Marketing, (417) 873-7317 or


Ribbon Cutting for New Ava Campus Location Will be Held April 8

Drury University’s College of Continuing Professional Studies Ava campus has moved into a new location in the second floor of the Missouri Ozarks Community Health/Wellness Center at 603 Northwest 10th Ave.

A ribbon cutting ceremony will be held at 3 p.m. on Thursday, April 8. Drury President Dr. David Manuel will be in attendance, alongside officials from the Ava Area Chamber of Commerce and staff from the branch campus.

The campus offices in Ava are open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday during the semester and offers academic advising, financial aid assistance and career counseling, in addition to a computer lab.

The CCPS Ava campus serves students living throughout Douglas, Ozark and Wright counties. Drury began offering classes in Ava in 1997, using Ava High School classrooms in the evening. A variety of general education, major requirement, and elective courses are offered each semester.


Drury Offers Wellness Certificate Program to Howell County Residents

Drury University is now offering a wellness certificate to residents of Howell County, thanks to a grant from the Delta Regional Authority and the Rural Community Advancement Program. The program is offered through Drury’s College of Continuing Professional Studies at its West Plains location.

The Certificate of Wellness is a 16-week program with areas of focus that include healthy cooking and nutrition, tobacco cessation, various types of exercise, and a stress management component based on a proven program from the Cleveland Clinic called “Stress Free Now!”

The goal of the certificate program is to increase awareness about and understanding of overall health and wellness. The program is designed to help business people and human resources professionals gain the knowledge they would need to establish a formal wellness program in their organization. However, the certificate program is open to individuals for their own personal benefit as well. Additionally, the registration fee will be waived for any nonprofit organization in Howell County that is associated with health and wellness issues.

Classes begin April 1 and run through July 15, and will be held in the Community Room at 403 Washington Ave. in West Plains. Drury is offering the certificate program for just $25 thanks to the grant. Participants will receive a Drury t-shirt and a 7-day pass to Anytime Fitness, 1651 Gibson St. in West Plains. They will be provided with all food and equipment necessary for the cooking classes and, of course, will get to enjoy their finished culinary treats.

For more information on the wellness certificate program, call Drury’s West Plains office at (417) 257-5700 or stop by the office located at 403 Washington Ave. in West Plains.


College of Continuing Professional Studies Extends January Office Hours

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Jan. 9, 2013 — Drury University’s College of Continuing Professional Studies will open its offices for extended Saturday hours at most satellite locations in January.

Although spring semester classes do not begin until Jan. 21, the extra office hours will give prospective and current students an extended opportunity to meet with Drury staff following inclement weather during the last week. Appointments are strongly encouraged, especially for current students. Media questions should be directed to the site directors of each location.


Thayer/West Plains – 8 a.m. to noon, Jan. 11

Phone: 417-264-2731   |    Site Director: Tammy Hathcock


Fort Leonard Wood/St. Robert – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Jan. 11 & 18

Phone: 573-451-2400   |    Site Director: Kricket Webster


Rolla/Owensville  – 10 am. to 2 p.m., Jan. 11 & 18

Phone: 573-368-4959   |   Site Director: Mary Iarussi


Lebanon – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Jan. 11 & 18

Phone: 417-532-9828   |   Site Director: Mary Iarussi


Springfield (Bay Hall offices) – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Jan. 11 & 18

Phone: 417-873-7502   |   Site Director: Sara Thornton


Ava – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Jan. 11 & 18

Phone: 417-873-7502   |   Site Director: Sarah Thornton


Monett/Bentonville – 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Jan. 11 & 18

Phone: 417-235-2007   |   Site Director: Ann Saunders


Cabool/Houston/Licking – 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Jan. 11 & 18; and 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday, Jan. 20 (Martin Luther King, Jr. Day)

Phone: 417-962-5314   |   Site Director: Nichole Honeycutt


Aaron Jones is named Dean of Drury’s College of Continuing Professional Studies

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., June 21, 2013 — Aaron Jones has been named the Dean of Drury’s College of Continuing Professional Studies (CCPS). Jones has been the interim dean since the spring of 2012.

“Aaron’s recent interim leadership in this position has been very valuable to Drury University and to the variety of regions we serve,” said Drury President David Manuel. “Aaron’s continued leadership will be instrumental in the future growth of CCPS.”

Aaron Jones, Dean of Drury's CCPS

Jones, a 1995 Drury graduate, received his Juris Doctor from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1998. He also received a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in dispute resolution in 2009 from the University of Missouri-Columbia.

Jones began practicing law in Springfield with Hulston, Jones & Marsh, in 1998.  He has also served as a municipal prosecutor and municipal judge. From 2006 to 2008, he served on the Board of Governors for the Missouri Bar as the Young Lawyers liaison.  Jones is a member of King’s Way United Methodist Church and the Rotary Club of Springfield (Downtown). He was elected to the Drury Board of Trustees in 2009, but he took a leave from the board when he was appointed to serve as interim dean.

Drury’s College of Continuing and Professional Studies serves more than 3,000 students throughout southwest Missouri. Besides Springfield, Drury offers classes in: Monett, Cabool, Licking, Ava, Thayer, St. Robert, Rolla, Fort Leonard Wood, Lebanon and Owensville. Additionally, Drury has a robust online program with 18 degrees that can be completed entirely online with online offices in West Plains, Mo. and Bentonville, Ark.


Long journey puts Drury student in “a better place”

Anjanette LaBellarte did not take the normal path into college. After graduating from high school in the 1980s, she went to work and began to raise a family. She worked as a waitress, and, after a divorce, she worked in a variety of careers, but college was never in her plans.

“I always thought, I don’t really need to go to school. I’m too busy. I’ve got the kids. I’m a single mom. I’m just trying to keep my head above water,” LaBellarte said.

Anjanette LaBellarte

She was shut out of jobs that required more than a high school diploma and she bounced between careers, finally landing in sales at the University Plaza Hotel and Convention Center. But, with a desire to make a better life for her family, in her late thirties, she quit her job, started a housekeeping business to give her a flexible schedule, and she enrolled in college.

“The number one reason was my daughters. I didn’t want them to be like me and how I had waited to get an education,” LaBellarte said. “So, I said I needed to take life by the reins and go to school.”

LaBellarte worked hard at school and in her business, often getting help from her daughters. After five years, LaBellarte earned a bachelor’s in communication with honors from Drury’s College of Continuing Professional Studies in May 2012, becoming the first person in her family to graduate from college. Then, she tapped into her network and worked with Drury’s Office of Career Planning and Development, and the University Plaza hired her back as a sales manager.

“What I saw in her the most was growth personally,” said Chris Huffington, LaBellarte’s manager. “She had a lot of self-confidence, she had great knowledge of what’s out in the community. She just needed that self-assurance.”

Now, it’s the next generation’s turn. LaBellarte has a stepdaughter at Drury and another about to enter college, and she has a message for anyone thinking about going to college, “If they want a better life for themselves and feel better about who they are, they should get an education. It doesn’t matter how old they are, if you want it, you can do it.”

To view a video about Anjanette’s journey, click here.