JACKSONVILLE - Education continues to be a hot topic across the state and the country. In Jacksonville, the College of Education and Human Services at the University of North Florida has been working with three elementary schools to train future educators and provide additional support to teachers and young students.The UNF professional development schools program will be one of three featured in a conference call at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 8, with the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. The discussion aims to focus attention on closing the achievement gap among schools and providing more highly qualified teachers for children in hard-to-staff schools.College of Education and Human Services Dean Larry Daniel and Deputy Superintendent Nancy Snyder with Duval County Public Schools will be among those taking part in Jacksonville’s portion of the conference call, which will be set up at the UNF campus in the President’s Conference Room in Daniel Hall, Building 1.The other programs taking part in the conference call are based in Denver and Waco, Texas. Arthur E. Wise, president of NCATE, and Marsha Levine, senior consultant for professional development schools for NCATE, will take part from Washington, D.C.The UNF program has worked with Sallye B. Mathis and West Jacksonville elementary schools for seven years and Woodland Acres Elementary School for four years. Each school is in an economically depressed neighborhood and serves a high percentage of low-income families and minorities.” Since 1999, Sallye B. Mathis has gone from an “F” school to a “C” school, and Woodland Acres and West Jacksonville have gone from “D” schools to “C” schools. The professional development schools program has been such a success that it received the 2003 Distinguished Program in Teacher Education from the Association of Teachers Educators. The association presents the award to an exemplary program in teacher education that is a cooperative effort between a university and a local education agency. More than 380 UNF students have completed their internships at one of the three schools between fall 1997 and spring 2004. Of those interns, 57 percent are employed by Duval County Public Schools and another 30 percent work in other districts in the area.By interning at an inner-city school, the students become better prepared to work in an inner-city school, which helps the teacher retention rate. Twenty-eight percent of the faculty at Sallye B. Mathis are UNF graduates and 16 percent are former interns there. At West Jacksonville, 52 percent of the faculty are teachers who interned at the school.In addition to the UNF students, the professional development schools each have a professor in residence who teaches a methods course at the school and helps to supervise the interns and work with classroom teachers. A master teacher also is at each school to work with interns and classroom teachers on a daily basis and to assist the schools with initiatives to improve education.For information on professional development schools, visit NCATE’s Web site at www.ncate.org <http://www.ncate.org>.* * * For information on how to listen to the conference call, contact Amy Parmelee at 904-620-2102.
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