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Baylor School of Education Announces Elementary PDS Sites [05/15/2020]


Hillcrest PDS

Hillcrest PDS in Waco ISD

After a yearlong application and review process, Baylor University School of Education (SOE) has selected four local elementary school campuses to serve as Professional Development School (PDS) sites for Baylor teacher-education students, with two schools each in Baylor’s two partner districts, Midway ISD and Waco ISD.

The elementary PDS campuses will be:

  • Bell’s Hill Elementary in Waco ISD
  • Castleman Creek Elementary in Midway ISD
  • Hillcrest PDS in Waco ISD
  • Spring Valley Elementary in Midway ISD

Castleman Creek Elementary in Midway ISD (Midway ISD photo)

Baylor’s PDS program launched in 1993 with an intense partnership at the newly re-opened campus of Hillcrest Elementary in Waco ISD, which changed the school’s name to incorporate “PDS” into the title. Hillcrest PDS has remained a PDS campus for 27 years.

Baylor SOE’s partnerships with Midway ISD and Waco ISD have both won national awards for excellence from the National Association of Professional Development Schools, in 2017 (Midway) and 2018 (Waco).

Professional Development Schools are innovative institutions formed through partnerships between university-based professional educator-preparation programs and preK-12 schools. Their mission is professional preparation of teacher candidates, school and faculty development, inquiry directed at the improvement of practice, and enhanced student learning.

With these elementary schools, Baylor will have eight fully-staffed PDS campuses at all levels. Current middle and secondary PDS campuses are:

Middle Grades:

  • Cesar Chavez Middle School in Waco ISD
  • Midway Middle School in Midway ISD

Secondary Level:

  • Midway High School in Midway ISD
  • University High School in Waco ISD
Spring Valley

Baylor student teaching at Spring Valley Elementary in Midway ISD

Dr. Suzanne Nesmith, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Education, said, “The strong partnerships with Midway ISD and Waco ISD are integral to our teacher preparation program, and we know that both the strength of the partnerships and the quality of the experiences for our teacher education candidates will continue to thrive in these elementary, middle school, and high school PDS campuses.”

Through Baylor’s PDS partnerships, a university liaison, who is a Baylor School of Education faculty member, along with a jointly employed site coordinator, works on each campus with the Baylor teacher candidates and in collaboration with the school principal and school faculty.

The PDS model is integral to the preparation of Baylor students to be classroom teachers in preK-12 and special education classrooms. During their junior year, all Baylor students teach on a PDS campus for four mornings each week. During a full-time yearlong student-teaching internship as a senior at Baylor, many students serve on a PDS campus, while some serve in varied settings in Midway or Waco ISD or in Baylor’s two other partner districts, Connally ISD and Robinson ISD. Baylor SOE’s Office of Professional Practice coordinates the placement of students in local schools and provides each future teacher with a variety of school and grade-level experiences.

Bell's Hill

Baylor student teaching at Bell’s Hill Elementary in Waco ISD

Dr. Krystal Goree, director of the Office of Professional Practice, said the PDS experience is important for preservice teachers, because they experience teaching and learning within communities of practice. “At the heart of the program are the nurturing PDS and partner campuses at which outstanding public school educators collaborate closely with Baylor faculty to guide and support the Baylor students in their acquisition of skills and knowledge,” she said.

The PDS and partner campuses provide significant mentoring and support to future teachers, with experienced mentor teachers and clinical instructors hosting and guiding Baylor students in their classrooms.

The Baylor model requires students to begin field work in area schools during their first education course at Baylor, teaching students one-to-one or one-to-two. First-year education students visit their students two days a week during part of the semester. Elementary-education majors will launch their Baylor field experiences at Hewitt Elementary in Midway ISD this fall, while middle-grades and secondary education majors will teach students at Cesar Chavez in Waco ISD.

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For more than 100 years, Baylor educators have carried the mission and practices of the School of Education to classrooms and beyond as teachers, leaders in K12 and higher education, psychologists, academics/scholars and more. With more than 50 full-time faculty members, the school’s growing research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation, while graduate programs culminating in both the Ed.D. and Ph.D. prepare outstanding leaders, teachers and clinicians through an intentional blend of theory and practice. Visit to learn more.

Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.

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