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Press Release for Monday, March 16, 2009

UNF Receives Professional Development School Achievement Award

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

The University of North Florida/Duval County Public Schools Urban Professional Development School Partnership, an innovative partnership for preparing teachers in Jacksonville, was the inaugural recipient of the Award for Exemplary Professional Development School Achievement. The award was presented on Saturday by the National Association for Professional Development Schools (NAPDS) at its annual conference in Daytona Beach.

This is the second time the UNF/Duval County Public Schools Urban Professional Development School Partnership has received national recognition. A similar recognition was awarded to the partnership in 2004 by the Association of Teacher Educators.

“I am absolutely thrilled to learn we have been recognized in this way,” said Dr. Larry G. Daniel, dean of the College of Education and Human Services at UNF. “The Urban Professional Development School program is among the most outstanding work we do, and this recognition confirms to us that the results we have seen are indeed noteworthy.”

The UNF/Duval County Public Schools Urban Professional Development School Partnership allows for UNF education students to learn to teach by participating in a series of on-site educational experiences at a Duval County urban elementary or middle school serving a diverse student population. The partnership currently involves Woodland Acres Elementary School, West Jacksonville Elementary School, Pine Estates Elementary School and Lakeshore Middle School.

“The development of small learning communities at each site as well as having a professor in residence at each site contributes to the success of the UNF/ Duval County Public Schools Urban Professional Development School Partnership,” said Alison Rutter, NAPDS president.

UNF partners with the school district to place clinical faculty members in each of these schools to assist university students in learning to teach within a living laboratory. Other UNF faculty, serving as professors in residence, offer their university courses at the school site. Students not only spend time listening to the instructor’s lecture but also have the opportunity to put their learning into practice first-hand with children and teachers in the school.

“This collaboration between UNF and Duval County Public Schools has enhanced our staff’s ability to continue to further their education profession,” said Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Ed Pratt-Dannals. “This partnership has proven to not only be beneficial for our staff but also for the education of our students.”

The partnership has made a difference in the achievement scores of students in the schools. West Jacksonville Elementary School went from a former F grade to an A grade in 2008. “My elementary school has improved steadily over time as the partnership with UNF has progressed,” said Michele Floyd-Hatcher, principal of West Jacksonville Elementary School.

The partnership has also helped principals staff their schools with eager UNF graduates. “Many of the students who complete pre-internships or internships in the PDS schools never want to leave,” said Daniel. “They fall in love with the children in these urban schools, and the school principals fall in love with them. These previously hard-to-staff schools now have people waiting in line to teach there.”