Shepherd’s Department of Education received a $38,802 grant administered by the West Virginia Department of Education to create schools of professional development within four Berkeley County schools.
A professional development school (PDS) is a partnership between a university education department and a P-12 school that helps prepare new teachers, offers faculty training, helps improve classroom practices, and enhances P-12 student achievement.
“The mission of Shepherd University professional development schools is to provide a learning community to improve the quality of teaching and learning for public school students,” said Dr. LeAnn Johnson, Shepherd assistant professor of education. “Our professional development schools hope to help with the preparation and retention of new teachers, faculty development, student achievement, conducting and utilizing research, and modeling innovative practice.”
Shepherd is working with four Berkeley County schools—Spring Mills Primary, Hedgesville Elementary, Potomack Intermediate, and Tomahawk Intermediate. Teacher candidates who are early education and elementary education majors, as well as those in music, art, and physical education, will be eligible for field placement in the program.
“The professional development schools allow Shepherd to strengthen its relationship with the partner schools,” said Helen Baker, Shepherd’s education field placement coordinator. “They will provide professional development training for both teachers in the four schools and Shepherd students who are participating in field placements.”
Teachers and administrators from the schools and Shepherd teacher candidates and faculty will have the opportunity to participate in four planned professional development training days. Topics and presenters will be selected based on identified needs, the focus of the county staff development programming, and research-based best practices.
“Shepherd education students taking part in the professional development schools will get deeper mentoring and practical experience,” said Dr. Dori Hargrove, Shepherd assistant professor of education. “The collaboration between Shepherd and Berkeley County provides a stronger understanding of what the needs are and how we can best provide for Shepherd students so they will be stronger first-year teachers.”
Shepherd teacher candidates participating in the PDSs will work alongside a mentor, or cooperating teacher, and receive an orientation and a toolbox that will provide them with in-depth information about how Berkeley County Schools operate. The toolbox will include technology policies, emergency procedures, instructional models for literacy, reading, and math, and special education. One goal is to increase the likelihood that the teacher candidates will eventually choose to work for Berkeley County Schools.
“The overall structure of this is to have more enrichment for these teachers and allow them to work alongside our teachers and receive top-notch professional development,” said Nicole Krause, Spring Mills Primary principal. “We want them to have really incredible experiences and be comfortable in our school system so they will want to work for us.”
“We are in an area of high demand for educators,” added Paula Hoffman, Berkeley County Schools academic coach. “Building relationships between the cooperating teacher and teacher candidates is extremely important, and valued by Berkeley County Schools, for future growth and retention.”