USD 410 professional development schools earn ‘thumbs up’

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN ALEEN RATZLAFF
Team members for professional development schools of Unified School District 410 received a “thumbs up” about their summer planning at a luncheon meeting of faculty and administrators earlier this month.

“You’re very much on track,” said Sister Frances Juiliano of St. Mary’s College in Leavenworth. “You’re already doing a lot of things to involve a broader community in addition to the teachers and students in the schools.”

Those comments summed up Juiliano’s evaluation of the work already done on the local PDS project, a partnership between USD 410 and Tabor College to enhance its teacher-education program and to improve teaching and learning by pre-kindergarten through grade 12 students.

The project is being funded a Kansas State Board of Education grant, which paid for Juiliano’s visit. She is chair of St. Mary’s education department, which has a PDS partnership with the Leavenworth school district for four years.

Most who attended the luncheon, held at Tabor, serve on one of three PDS teams-elementary, middle school and high school levels. The teams met this summer to design partnership models for the local PDS project, which gives teachers-in-training more time in the classroom and increases interaction between public school teachers and college faculty.

Prior to the luncheon, Juiliano met with each team and the oversight committee so she could provide feedback about compliance with standards for professional development schools, adopted by the state of Kansas from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

“Overall, I see you addressing all of the beginning level standards, which focus on planning,” said Juiliano, who is active in the Kansas PDS Coalition.

As they continue work together, Juiliano said teams will find ways to involve the college students in classroom assessments.

“At this stage, it’s a little difficult for the (teaching) candidate to be involved in that,” she said. “You’re not quite there yet, but you’ll continue to work at it.”

In fall, teachers and administrators begin the next level of the PDS project-implementation.

“You do see collaboration as a way to continue the communication,” Juiliano said about her observations. “You’re roles are emerging.”

Juiliano said input from team members will be important in determining what’s needed next year for the PDS project. Donna Bagley, chair of Tabor’s education department, is applying for one-year renewal of the grant, which is due early September.

In response to Juiliano’s comments, Superintendent Gordon Mohn said: “I really appreciate the work of the (USD 410) staff has done and what I see as an openness from the colleges of education to say, ‘We want to get better-we want to meet the demands of public schools.'”

Several in attendance expressed appreciation about the process.

“The collaboration has been wonderful to see,” said Evan Yoder, principal at Hillsboro Middle School. “In some ways, the grant has forced us to collaborate.”

With the PDS project, exchange and cooperation between the USD 410 and Tabor happens on the formal and informal levels.

“We’re excited to see how it goes in getting (college) students in the classroom earlier and actually working with real students,” said Tabor faculty member Joanne Loewen, who serves on the elementary team.

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