In November, three representatives of the Lourdes University Department of Education traveled to Brazil to explore the possibility of a professional development school partnership involving Lourdes’ teacher preparation program. Educators included Michael Smith, Ph.D., Dean of the College of Education & Human Services; Michael French, Ph.D., Associate Chair for Graduate & Professional Studies; and Gayle Burrer, M.Ed., Coordinator of Field Experiences. “As a result of the visit, the Pan American School (PAS) of Porto Alegre, Brazil and Lourdes University’s Department of Education are developing a Memorandum of Understanding to enter into a formal Professional Development School partnership,” notes Professor Burrer.
Through the proposed collaboration, the two parties will:
- Promote authentic, international learning experiences for teacher candidates;
- Engage in professional development for both pre-service and in-service teachers;
- Enhance PK-12 student learning through teacher candidates who can provide additional attention to individual student needs in the classroom;
- Provide opportunities for cultural enrichment to students, families, and faculty;
- Provide opportunities for research and inquiry directed at the improvement of practice and learning; and
- Increase the school’s capacity for innovation and knowledge development.
Advantages of the proposed partnership include:
- PAS students will benefit from the presence of teacher candidates who can provide ongoing attention to individual student needs in the classroom. “We are hoping to recruit potential student teachers for the Spring 2014 semester,” notes Professor Burrer.
- Pre k-grade 12 students from PAS and the Franciscan Academy of Lourdes University will gain from cultural enrichment opportunities, such as Pen Pal writing, Skyping, and potential student exchanges.
- PAS faculty will benefit from on-going, focused professional development and action research projects.
- Lourdes Education teacher candidates and faculty will have the opportunity to observe and practice a variety of instructional and management techniques in an international, authentic school environment.
- Lourdes University’s Department of Education will benefit from having an international Professional Development School where its teacher candidates can be trained by partnership faculty who are knowledgeable about the college program and trained in use of supervision skills.
- The teaching profession will gain from having new teachers who have been trained and nurtured in a global environment where excellent professional practice and commitment to high principles have been modeled by the professional staff.