TC, USD 410 receive education grant

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN DON RATZLAFF
Tabor College and Unified District 410-including Hillsboro High School, Hillsboro Middle School and Hillsboro Elementary School-will soon benefit from a “Professional Development School” sub-grant from the Kansas Department of Education.



The grant, which totals more than $13,300, will be used to begin professional development schools (PDS) at each of three local schools that will help shape and evaluate the classroom experiences of Tabor education students preparing for student-teaching assignments.



“We will bring people together to talk about what is good for the students who will be practice teaching in the system,” said Donna Bagley, chair of Tabor’s education department and project director.



“Out of that, I’m hoping weekly benchmarks will be developed for the Tabor students. Then everybody will share the same expectations of our students. Each one of those sets of benchmarks may look different. It will depend on what each school wants and needs.”



Tabor currently conducts a similar program at Roosevelt Elementary School in McPherson.



“Our student just get a fabulous experience there because everybody knows what everybody else is expecting,” Bagley said. “The teachers actually plan for the (Tabor) students to come, so the students become an asset to the school rather than being in the way.”



At Hillsboro, committees from each PDS will include two USD 410 teachers, a Tabor student, the building administrator and a Tabor faculty member.



The committee will conduct monthly meetings, visit other successful PDS sites and attend a three-day summer institute, during which expectations, assessment tools and the final blueprint will be designed for the 2002-03 academic year.



Two staff members of the Hillsboro school district will become members of the Tabor College Teacher Education Committee to provide input from the school practitioner to the teacher-education program.



A PDS consortium-composed of the co-partnership directors responsible to the funding agency, USD 410 superintendent Gordon Mohn, Bagley and two representatives from each of the three PDS sites-will be formed to develop a mission statement and formalized agreement to be signed by Doug Weinbrenner, chair of the USD 410 Board of Education, and Larry Nikkel, Tabor College president.



The grant covers start-up expenses through July.



“We have the potential for one more year of funding,” Bagley said. “Since we have three different sites, we have an oversight group who will come up with a mission statement for the project and goals. What develops through small groups will determine the kind of funding we ask for the year to come.”



“We anticipate that once we get going, both institutions can pick up the costs, which will be fairly minimal,” she added.



“I am excited about this opportunity to work more closely with USD 410 for the benefit of both the children in the district and Tabor’s pre-service educators,” Bagley said.



Research has shown that this kind of program can improve the quality of education for USD 410 students, too, Bagley said, “because there’s an extra set of hands in the classroom.”



“We’re looking forward to working with Tabor,” Mohn said. “The partnership will greatly enhance opportunities to provide meaningful experiences for students and teachers.”



If all goes according to plan, the partnership between Tabor and USD 410 eventually will extend throughout Marion County. After initially meeting with the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce, a meeting will take place with county-wide school districts.



“To have Tabor at that table would be fantastic,” Bagley said.

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