Mount Mercy University is partnering with Regis Middle School and Center Point-Urbana schools to implement a Professional Development School (PDS) model for teacher preparation. This program provides university education majors the opportunity to apply the theory and content they are learning in their classes directly into the district classrooms. In turn, K-12 students benefit from additional instruction and support provided by Mount Mercy’s teacher interns.
Mount Mercy is one of only a few of colleges in the state participating in a collaboration like this to date.
“This kind of partnership with local schools is different from what other schools in Iowa are doing,” said Ellen O’Keefe, chair of the education department at Mount Mercy. “Our students are able to gain immediate classroom experience, which kick starts their career paths in education.”
Mount Mercy has 15-18 juniors at each of the two schools. Secondary education students are working with Regis Middle School, while half of the elementary education students are working with Center Point-Urbana Primary School. The other half will work with Center Point-Urbana Intermediate School during the spring term.
Mount Mercy students take some of their university-level classes at the assigned school and then transition into the local classroom to apply the teaching techniques covered in their classes directly with students in the school district classrooms.
“Having the students from Mount Mercy in our classrooms allows for different, fulfilling experiences,” said Beth Globokar, principal of Regis Middle School. “The college learners bring new teaching elements into the classroom that helps keep our young minds alert and interested.”
The PDS collaborations have been in place for nearly one year, and are proving to fulfill multiple needs for both the schools and the university.
“It really seems to be working beyond our expectations,” said Ann Wooldridge, principal of Center Point-Urbana Primary School. “The college students respond well to the hands-on training afforded by this partnership, and our students benefit from the interaction with Mount Mercy’s students.”
In an effort to fulfill the agreements with the districts, Mount Mercy will also provide in-service training for Regis and Center Point-Urbana teachers upon request. Educators from each school have received some discussion of expectations and tandem work with Mount Mercy faculty, according to O’Keefe.
“Teachers are very receptive to our students and enjoy helping them obtain hands-on experience,” O’Keefe said. “They were once college-level students, so they certainly relate to our Mount Mercy learners. Teachers are also able to see the latest teaching techniques in action. Our partnership is truly beneficial in countless ways.”