Baylor University School of Education announced the establishment of two new Professional Development Schools (PDS) in partnership with Midway ISD at Midway Middle School and Spring Valley Elementary, beginning fall 2014.
Professional Development Schools are innovative institutions formed through partnerships between university professional education programs and preK-12 schools. Their mission is professional preparation of candidates, school and faculty development, inquiry directed at the improvement of practice and enhanced student learning. Baylor students (teacher candidates) will work with mentor teachers from Midway schools in the classroom to bring together experience and innovation for the preparation of new teachers and the improvement of education for children.
The School of Education previously had seven PDS campuses: Bell’s Hill, Hillcrest PDS, Mountainview, and Parkdale at the elementary level in Waco ISD; Caesar Chavez Middle School and University High School, also in Waco ISD; and Midway High School. The addition of Midway Middle School and Spring Valley Elementary brings the total to nine, with six schools in Waco ISD and three in Midway ISD.
Through the PDS partnerships, a university liaison, who is a Baylor School of Education faculty member, and a jointly employed site coordinator work with Baylor teacher candidates on site. In collaboration with the school principal and school faculty, they work together to advance the education of children at participating Professional Development Schools.
Baylor teacher candidates begin their field work in area schools during the freshman year and spend significant and progressively more time on school campuses. During the junior year, teacher candidates serve in schools every day as teaching associates, and as seniors, they are in schools full-time on a daily basis to observe, assist, practice, and teach. This clinical approach prepares teachers with almost two full years of experience in classrooms—often in a co-teach situation with the classroom mentor—before graduation and job placement.
Mentor teachers and clinical instructors, who are experienced classroom teachers, benefit from teacher candidates’ presence in the classroom and learn new teaching techniques and technology from their interns. Students in the district benefit from all parts of the partnerships—having more time one-on-one with instructors, experiencing different teaching styles, and learning from new, creative lessons.
Baylor School of Education Dean Dr. Jon Engelhardt said, “We are pleased to expand our partnership with two new Professional Development Schools in Midway ISD. This development provides our teacher candidates an opportunity to experience a broader set of teaching environments and brings together two school districts in the Waco area formally committed to preparing future teachers.”
Engelhardt said that providing additional placements for Baylor teacher candidates at the middle school and elementary levels was important in increasing Baylor’s capacity to prepare teachers, because the certification categories for teachers in the State of Texas now require teacher candidates to gain experience in a wider range of grade levels that may be housed on different school campuses.
“This is a great opportunity to expand our partnership with Baylor School of Education,” said Midway ISD Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction Dr. Brent Merritt. “As educators, we believe it is our responsibility to be well-prepared for our students, and also prepare the next generation of teachers. In turn, we learn from interns new innovative ideas.”
Merritt added, “Another benefit for Midway is getting to know interns very well to be able to evaluate skills and determine if we want to hire them upon graduation. At Spring Valley alone, more than 10 teachers came through the Baylor student teaching internship program.”
Midway Middle School currently has 1,222 students in seventh and eighth grades, and 68 teachers. Spring Valley Elementary has 457 students in grades K-4 and 26 teachers. Both campuses will host approximately 20-35 Baylor junior and senior education majors.
“It’s a blessing just to be considered and selected to become a PDS school,” said Spring Valley Principal Jay Fischer. “Our campus staff understands the impact we will make on future educators, and more importantly, the students they will serve.”
Engelhardt said preparation will begin immediately for placing Baylor School of Education students in these new PDS campuses.