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April 15, 2002
OSWEGO -- Discussion of how the SUNY Oswego School of Education's Professional Development School initiative is making the grade will be the topic of one of the Quest presentations at the college on Wednesday, April 24.
In "A Preliminary Evaluation of Professional Development Schools in Oswego County," educators Tania Ramalho, Kathleen Cullen, Barbara Beyerbach and Mary Harrell will look at how the teacher training initiative has met challenges and made adjustments along the way. The session will begin a 12:30 p.m. in Room 106A of Lanigan Hall. It is one of more than 100 presentations in the college's annual daylong celebration of scholarly and creative activities.
The PDS project began through planning by Team Sheldon, a committee made up of all school superintendents in Oswego County as well as School of Education Dean Linda Rae Markert, Associate Dean Suzanne Weber and School of Education department chairs.
"Between 1997 and 1999, dialogue, planning and a PDS literature review took place by Team Sheldon," said Cullen, the PDS coordinator. Program implementation began in 1999.
Cullen said a number of factors -- such as tightening budgets and a turnover in personnel -- have led to adjustments. "The presentation will look at a few specific things that have occurred which have caused us to modify our direction," she said.
Overall, the project is going strong in the middle of its third year, she added. "If the students are being better trained, they will have an easier time in the classroom," Cullen said.
Training and mentoring opportunities in the county may also convince some teachers to stay to work locally, so "hopefully local schools will see some of the benefit," Cullen said.
Currently, the PDS sites are in Fulton's Lanigan Elementary and Parish Elementary in the Altmar-Parish-Williamstown district. At these sites, Cullen explained, pre-service student teachers gain the benefit of quality instruction from local classroom teachers as well as hands-on teaching experience.
"During the fall semester, each PDS site has approximately 25 college students who come two days a week for methods and practicum classes," Cullen said. "They come back in the spring semester to do their student teaching. They essentially spend almost a year at one school." This is in addition to another student teaching assignment.
Local classroom teachers are an important part of the program, teaching the fall sessions and supervising in the spring, spending time out of their own classrooms, Cullen said. "We're trying to reduce the number of days out for these teachers," she noted.
The PDS program also includes securing grants for professional development opportunities to meet the needs of public school teachers and college educators. In addition to better using training resources, Cullen said, this joint effort "helps the university understand the public schools and vice versa."
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