Open Classroom non-degree study

Certificates for Catholic Educators

Join the faculty of the Augustine Institute for a journey of continuing formation that lets the truth of Christ illuminate your work as a teacher.

Join the renewal of Catholic education.

We offer two certificate programs designed for educators through our non-degree program, Open Classroom: The Religious Dimension of Learning and The Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

Both programs are intended for all teachers or administrators who desire to receive the Catholic tradition of education more deeply in order to share its riches more effectively.

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Our joy as Catholic teachers is to find in Jesus Christ “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:3).

The Religious Dimension of
Learning Certificate

The essential mark of a Catholic school is that it presents “a Catholic worldview throughout the curriculum” (Archbishop Michael Miller, The Holy See’s Teaching on Catholic Schools, 2006). This certificate program introduces educators to the holy wisdom found in a fully integrated Catholic education.

This program is guided by the Congregation for Catholic Education’s document "The Religious Dimension of Education in a Catholic School", which provides a practical roadmap for renewing a school by grounding all its activities in the faith. The program consists of seven courses:

  • Image and Likeness: God and the Human Person  
  • The Gospel and Our Philosophic Heritage  
  • The Book of Nature: Science and Faith  
  • A Providential God: The Drama of Human History  
  • The Artistic and Literary Patrimony of Christianity  
  • Educating the Christian Person  
  • The Worshiping Person

The Seven Pillars of Wisdom Certificate

This certificate program provides training in the seven liberal arts, which are the streams that lead through the essential disciplines of the mind to the ocean of divine wisdom: God himself, the source of all truth and the end of all our striving for wisdom. The program consists of seven courses:

  • Grammar and the Power of Words
  • Perfecting Thought Through Logic
  • Moving Mind and Heart Through Rhetoric  
  • Imagination and the Art of Geometry
  • Arithmetic and the Power of Number
  • The Heavenly Art of Astronomy  
  • The Numerical Mysteries of Music
Our joy as Catholic teachers is to find in Jesus Christ “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col 2:3).

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I access classes?

All courses are available through our learning management system, Open Classroom.

How much does the certificate cost?

Each certificate program costs $400 per person. Please contact admissions for special group pricing.

What are the classes like?

Each of the seven courses in the certificate program includes three hours of lecture divided into six 30-minute segments, available asynchronously. Learners receive short reading assignments for each segment and will also complete course quizzes.

Are there any prerequisites?

No, we welcome all teachers and administrators with a range of experience to complete the certificate program.

When do classes start?

Students may register any time.

How long will it take to complete a certificate? 

Each program has 21 hours of asynchronous lecture accompanied by short supplemental reading. We expect learners to complete a certificate in one semester, but access to the course material will be granted for one academic year.

How will I be graded? 

Learners will receive a passing grade, attesting to successful completion of all material.

Would this certificate count toward any classes if I decide to pursue a master's degree
at the Augustine Institute?

These certificate courses are not-for-credit, but should you seek to pursue a Master of Arts in Catholic Education at the Augustine Institute, you may be considered for a prior learning assessment on completion of additional coursework.

Will I receive professional development credit for the certificate? 

Check with your professional development certifier to find out. We will provide a transcript upon request and any accompanying documentation as needed.

Course Faculty

Andrew Seeley, Ph.D.

Visiting Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Andrew Seeley received a Licentiate from the Pontifical Institute in Medieval Studies in Toronto and a Ph.D. in Medieval Studies from the University of Toronto. In three decades as a Tutor at Thomas Aquinas College, Dr. Seeley taught every subject in its integrated Great Books curriculum. He is co-author of Declaration Statesmanship: A Course in American Government. Desiring to share his love of learning, Dr. Seeley co-founded the Institute for Catholic Liberal Education in 2005, where he served as Executive Director for 12 years, and is now Director of Advanced Formation. He became Executive Director of the Arts of Liberty Project in 2021. For his work in the renewal of liberal education, he was named as the 2023 recipient of the Circe Institute’s Paideia Prize.

Dr. Michael Augros

Visiting Professor of Philosophy 

Dr. Michael Augros earned his doctorate in philosophy from Boston College in 1995. Since then he has been teaching philosophy and related subjects to undergraduates and seminarians. After teaching for many years at Thomas Aquinas College in California, he volunteered to teach at its branch campus in New England, starting in its first year in 2019, where he has been teaching ever since. He is the author of Who Designed the Designer? and The Immortal in You, both published by Ignatius Press, and of Aquinas on Theology and God's Existence and Aquinas on God's Simplicity and Perfection, both from editiones scholasticae.

Dr. Sean Innerst

Professor of Theology and Catechetics

Sean Innerst is a Professor of Theology and Catechetics at the Augustine Institute and has been teaching theology, evangelization, and catechesis to seminarians; college students; Christ in the City Missionaries; FOCUS missionaries; graduate students; DREs and DEs; deacon candidates; and catechists and regular folks in many parishes and dioceses for over twenty-five years. He helped found two important Catholic institutions in Denver: St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, as founding provost, and the Augustine Institute, as its founding academic dean. He is the author of Pillars: A Journey Through the Catechism and From Blessing to Blessing: The Catechism as a Journey of Faith (both from Ascension Press) and the four-part series Ladder of Ascent, a two-year course on the Catechism of the Catholic Church used in a number of dioceses in the United States.

Dr. Shannon Valenzuela

Visiting Associate Professor of Humanities

Shannon Valenzuela, Ph.D., is currently an Affiliate Assistant Professor of Humanities at the University of Dallas. She received her B.A. in English and Classics from the University of Dallas, and her Ph.D. in literature from the University of Notre Dame. Her dissertation, titled Mnemosyne’s Son: Chaucer, Translation, and the Creation of English Textual Memory, explored medieval theories of memory and translation and their influence on Chaucer’s development of English as a vernacular literary language. In her long teaching career at both the K-12 and collegiate levels, she has taught subjects across the curriculum, from advanced mathematics to theology, natural science to literature. She is the writer, director, and host of the limited television series The Quest, produced by the University of Dallas and distributed by EWTN, and she has written and voiced various meditations for the Augustine Institute's Amen app. In addition to her work in education, she is an award-winning screenwriter and a novelist, and she is managed by Art/Work Entertainment.

Gwen Adams, Ph.D.

Visiting Assistant Professor of Theology

Gwen Adams earned a B.A. in History from Christendom College, an M.A. in Catholic Studies from the University of St. Thomas, and a Ph.D. in Theology from Liverpool Hope University. Dr. Adams is a writer and playwright, teacher and speaker. She has worked in parish, diocesan, middle-school, high-school, undergraduate, and graduate settings, teaching history and literature and directing plays including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Winter’s Tale, Uncle Vanya, and Life Is a Dream. She has taught several classes at the Augustine Institute, including Conscience, Truth, and Charity: Social Teaching of Benedict XVI, Catholic Education, and Reform, Renewal, and the Lay Faithful. Dr. Adams is the author of By an Unexpected Way: Stories of the New Evangelization (Augustine Institute, 2019) and the founder of, offering new plays and youth and young adult theater.

Jeffrey Lehman, Ph.D.

Professor of Philosophy and Theology | Director of M.A. Catholic Education

Jeffrey Lehman earned a B.A. in Philosophy and Biblical Literature from Taylor University, an M.A. in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics from Biola University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Dallas. In addition to serving on the teaching faculty of Biola University, Thomas Aquinas College, Hillsdale College, and the University of Dallas, he also developed curriculum for the undergraduate Classical Education Program at Hillsdale College and for the graduate Classical Education Program at the University of Dallas, both of which programs grew substantially under his guidance and influence. He has published essays and books on a wide array of authors and texts, including Augustine: Rejoicing in the Truth and Socratic Conversation: Bringing the Dialogues of Plato and the Socratic Tradition into Today’s Classroom.