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Aura Wharton-Beck

Assistant Professor

Educational Leadership

  • Education
  • BA, University of Illinois-Chicago
    MA, University of Illinois-Chicago
    EdS, University of St. Thomas
    EdD, University of St. Thomas
  • Expertise
  • Educational Leadership

A firsthand experience tutoring neighborhood children led Dr. Aura Wharton-Beck to pursue a BA and MEd from the University of Illinois-Chicago Circle and an Educational Specialist (EdS) from the University of St. Thomas. Aura began her career as a teacher for hearing impaired students in the Chicago Public Schools. Armed with six years of teaching experience, the Minneapolis Public Schools recruited her to teach elementary and middle school students. Her leadership positions include mentoring and coaching teachers, serving as an adjunct faculty in higher education and as a public school principal.

Aura's passion for arts integration in education led her to create a pint-size orchestra in an elementary school. Among her student-centered achievements, Education Minnesota captured her philosophy of education in a statewide television commercial titled "validatED." The Minnesota Orchestra Showcase Magazine published her essay, "Practice, the Best Homework," which defined her lifelong pursuit of advocating arts education and academic equity for all students. The Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association (MESPA) recognized her for leadership accomplishments in 2012 by awarding her a Division Leadership Award.

Dr. Wharton-Beck earned her EdD degree of the University of St. Thomas College of Education, Leadership and Counseling. She is the recipient of the 2017 University Advocates for Women and Equity Award (Sapientia Award) for scholarly or creative work focused on women. In January 2018, Aura joined the faculty of the Department of Educational Leadership as an Assistant Professor.

Media & Publications

  • The Aquinas Scholars at the University of St. Thomas presented their final projects as part of the Race and Place Seminar on Dec. 11, 2022, at the Westminster Social Justice Forum. Drs. Aura Wharton-Beck and Rita Lederle co-teach this semester-long seminar. The scholars created a final project to propose a transportation project that increases equity in the Twin Cities. They used bridges and highways as metaphors to set the stage for examining infrastructure projects and housing, and their impact on the culture of established communities in the United States. https://vimeo.com/showcase/5294715
  • Wharton-Beck, A., Chou, C. C., Gilbert, C., Johnson, B., & Beck, M. A. (2022). K-12 school leadership perspectives from the COVID-19 pandemic. Policy Futures in Education, 0(0). https://doi.org/10.1177/14782103221135620
  • Wharton-Beck, A. (2022), "Interrupted Labor by Another Name: Resistance." Feminist Review, Issue 132.
  • Wharton-Beck, A. (2021), "A Case Study of African American 'Government Girls:' Unspoken Narratives." Journal of Ethnographic & Qualitative Research, 15, 315-33.
  • Chou, Chientzu Candace; Chuang, Hsueh-Hua; and Wharton-Beck, Aura N. (2019) "Fostering the Development of Social Capital to Enrich Student Experiences Through After-School Digital Tutoring Programs," Journal of Educational Technology Development and Exchange (JETDE): Vol. 12: Iss. 1, Article 1. Available at: https://aquila.usm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1115&context=jetde
  • Education Minnesota Statewide Commercials: “Validated" "Achieving is Believing" "Teaching from the Heart" and "The Pint-Sized Orchestra." March 2014.
  • Minnesota Orchestra Showcase Magazine Essay: “Practice: The Best Homework.” October 2010 and 2015 (reprinted).
  • Editorial Review for Professional Text: “How Real Teachers Learn to Engage All Learners.”
  • "Beethoven and Bach on a Budget," Star Tribune.
  • “Safe Havens and Hallowed Grounds: Employment Clinics, Segregated Dormitories, and Churches for African American Government Girls.” Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH), Richmond, Virginia, October 2016.
  • “Pulp Queens and Government Girls: What WWII Did for Working Women.” American Studies Conference, Hartford, Connecticut, October 2003.

  • Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association (MESPA) Leadership Award, 2012
  • University Advocates for Women and Equity Award (Sapientia Award), 2017
  • Luann Dummer Center for Women Research Fellowship Award, 2014

  • Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. 
  • Association of Black Women Historians, Life Member
  • Center for Inclusive Child Care, Board Member 
  • Charter School Authorization Board, Committee Member 
  • Fraser Community Services Advisory Board 
  • University of St. Thomas/SPPS Lab School Design Team