Jennie Weiland and Allison Dunn.

Jennie Weiland and Allison Dunn.

What is the purpose of a teacher? Is it to make decisions about how best to help their students learn in an environment? To use caution and consider their values and those of their students? To continuously grow and improve themselves and their students?

The answer is, of course, yes to all of these and more – which is how two Xavier teachers received the Outstand Faculty Award from Rio Salado College for the 2018, 2019 and 2020 school years.

Jennie Weiland and Allison Dunn have been part of the Xavier Prep community for over 20 years. During their time at Xavier, they have participated in the dual enrollment program with Rio Salado College. The program started in 1987 and offers students the option to earn college credits alongside their regular high school credits. Xavier was the first high school in Arizona to make the program available to its students.

Weiland teaches AP biology, honors biology and college prep biology at Xavier. She started teaching at Xavier in 1997, shortly after she graduated from college. Dunn teaches AP art history, AP studio art, honors independent study, oil painting I & II and intermediate and advanced drawing/painting. She’s been at Xavier since 2008 and, before then, taught at various universities, including ASU.

They are both adjunct professors at Rio Salado, with Weiland teaching biology and Dunn teaching various online art classes.

Rio Salado College’s Outstanding Faculty Award recognizes its full-time and adjunct faculty members. Xavier faculty, who are also Rio Salado faculty, are eligible. Awardees are selected by Rio Salado’s department chairs and are based on evaluations and performance.

“I was shocked and then very pleased to receive this award since it is nice to be valued,” Dunn said.

“This program allows parents to save thousands of dollars in tuition when their student goes to college, but it also makes life easier for the student,” said Xavier Director of Marketing Lisa Zuba. “For example, some may get preferential housing because they’re not considered a ‘freshman.’ Also, students can end up earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree in four years because she’s arriving at college with credits.”

Weiland explained that in the last few years, approximately one-third of Xavier’s graduating seniors have achieved either their Associate of Arts (AA) or Associate of Science (AS) degrees in addition to their Xavier high school diploma. Numerous additional students have also earned enough dual enrollment college credits to cover several of the many universities’ requirements.

“It is a fantastic option for many students,” she said.

Weiland and Dunn were presented with plaques that read, “For your devotion to students, your love of learning, and your outstanding teaching.”

“It is always really nice to have hard work and sincere effort be recognized, both personally and professionally,” Weiland said.

“Our students and the entire Xavier community benefit greatly from Alison and Jennie’s instruction and inspiration,” Xavier Principal Sister Joan Nuckols said. “They ensure our visual arts and science programs are a vital component of 21st-century learning.”