Penn State/State College PDS Wins Exemplary Achievement Award
by Joe Savrock (March 2009)
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – For the third time in eight years, the Professional Development School (PDS) collaborative between Penn State’s College of Education and the State College Area School District has received a major national award.
The Penn State/State College PDS was recently named winner of the inaugural Exemplary Professional Development School Achievement Award, given by the National Association for Professional Development Schools (NAPDS). Members of the PDS collaborative received the award March 14 at the annual PDS National Conference in Daytona Beach, Fla. NAPDS is recognized as the premier national organization focused on professional development school initiatives.
“This national recognition is a tremendous tribute to all of the teachers, administrators, faculty members, doctoral students, and Penn State preservice teachers who have worked so hard to build a partnership that meets the needs of all of our stakeholders.” said James Nolan, Henry J. Hermanowicz Professor of Teacher Education and professor-in-charge of Curriculum and Instruction Field Experiences.
Bernard Badiali, associate professor of educational leadership, noted that some 148 colleges and universities and nearly 300 school districts were represented at this year’s NAPDS conference. “I was so pleased that we've been recognized once again on the national level,” he said. “So many people are invested in this PDS; it's a remarkable partnership.”
Nolan and Badiali were part of a PDS team that produced the award’s application. Others were Donna Queeney, State College Area School District board member; Jacqueline Edmondson, associate dean of Penn State’s College of Education; Deirdre Bauer, principal of Radio Park Elementary School; Carla Zembal-Saul, Kahn Professor of Science Education at Penn State; Marion Wheland and Mardi McDonough, teachers at Park Forest Elementary School; and Rebecca Burns, Penn State doctoral candidate.
“It is very gratifying to see the recurring national recognition of this outstanding example of how a school district and a college of education can develop a partnership of lasting value,” said David H. Monk, dean of Penn State’s College of Education. “The true test of a partnership is its ability to thrive over time. This PDS partnership has indeed been thriving for more than ten years and is most deserving of national recognition.”
The Penn State/State College PDS has won two other prominent awards. In 2004, it earned the Nancy Zimpher Outstanding School–University Partnership Award, presented by the Holmes Partnership Group. In 2002, the PDS was named the Distinguished Teacher Education Program from the Association of Teacher Educators, an award designed to recognize programs that exemplify collaboration between colleges and school districts and to stimulate innovation.
The PDS involves preservice teachers and faculty members at Penn State, as well as veteran teachers and administrators of the school district, all of whom work together to ensure the high-quality induction of new teachers into the education field. The PDS concept supports the learning of prospective and beginning teachers by creating settings in which preservice teachers enter professional practice by working with veteran teachers, who in turn benefit in their own professional development by assuming roles as mentors.
“While the PDS began with a focus on quality preservice teacher education, the professional development opportunities for mentor teachers and, ultimately, the benefit to our elementary students of the creative instructional partnerships in their classrooms have also emerged as true strengths of the PDS,” stated Patricia Best, superintendent of the State College Area School District. “It is affirming for our PDS and the efforts of so many district and university participants in this partnership to receive national recognition once again. Growing and sustaining a successful partnership of this magnitude and longevity is a tremendous accomplishment.”
The PDS between Penn State and the State College Area School District is formally called the Central Pennsylvania Holmes Partnership. The Holmes Partnership is a network of universities, schools, community agencies, and national professional organizations working to create high-quality professional development and significant school renewal to improve teaching and learning.