Press Release for Wednesday, August 24, 2005

UNF Selects New Professional Development Partner Schools

Contact: Joanna Norris
Department of Media Relations and Events
(904) 620-2102

The University of North Florida recently selected new partner schools for the next three years as part of its nationally recognized Urban Professional Development School Partnership program with the Duval County School District. The partnership focuses on urban schools serving students of diverse backgrounds.

Schools selected for the three-year cycle include Lake Shore Middle, Pine Estates Elementary, North Shore Elementary, West Jacksonville Elementary and Woodland Acres Elementary schools. West Jacksonville and Woodland Acres are continuing as partners, while the other schools are new to the partnership, which was recognized in 2003 by the Association of Teacher Educators as the Outstanding Partnership in Teacher Education. This is the first year the partnership has included a middle school.

“The Urban Professional Development School Partnership embodies everything that UNF stands for—first-rate education of new teachers, professional development of experienced teachers and enhanced achievement of students in the schools,” said Larry Daniel, dean of the College of Education and Human Services.

Professional development schools, designed to train and induct new teachers, are partnerships between UNF and K-12 schools in Duval County—a partnership that has been maintained for approximately 12 years. These PDS partnership schools commit to develop a learning community through inquiry and action research on-site at K-12 schools. The partnership also allows for experienced teachers to learn about new trends in education from UNF students and faculty who devote their time to working with the partner schools. University faculty teach, observe and evaluate their student teachers at actual school sites, and teachers at the school collaborate in supervising student teachers as well as serve as clinical faculty for the University.

By interning in professional development schools, UNF students become prepared to work effectively in inner city schools. “The opportunity to intern at a PDS school with its high-degree of on-site support has prepared prospective teachers for the types of challenging experiences they might encounter as they enter the profession,” said Cathy O’Farrell, field experiences director for the College of Education and Human Services. “Because these students have had successful experiences in urban settings, many will return to an urban setting as a beginning teacher.”

For example at West Jacksonville Elementary School, more than half of the current faculty are teachers who interned at the school or another professional development school. Of the approximately 400 students who completed teaching internships in partnership schools between 1997 and 2004, 57 percent are employed in Duval County schools and another 30 percent teach in other school districts in Northeast Florida.