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Professional Development and Partnerships

​​​​​​​Year One of a Collaborative Partnership with St. Johns Boosting the Ag-STEM Effort

SJPS2016Preparing and sustaining professional educators has enhanced the need for school-university collaboration, which is why the Center for Clinical Experiences and the Teacher Education and Professional Development Department have developed a unique Ag-STEM partnership with St. Johns Public Schools.

As year one of five is well underway, the existing partnership has already provided meaningful exchanges between CMU faculty, CMU Pre-Student Teachers and Gateway Elementary P-5 staff, in the St. Johns Public School system.  This partnership focuses on Ag-STEM concepts, with initial concentration on mathematics education and professional development. Eight CMU Pre-Student Teachers are collectively working alongside Cooperating Teachers, who are diligently mentoring them through their clinical experience. The foundation and development of this partnership comes from the National Association for Professional Development Schools' model, which can be considered a four-fold endeavor. CMU and St. Johns Public Schools are focused on "preparing future educators, providing current educators with ongoing professional development, encouraging joint school-university faculty investigation of related issues and promoting the learning of P-12 students" (Brindley, 2008).

Current Educator Professional DevelopmentTeacher candidates, new teachers, veteran teachers and university faculty are all being professional developed simultaneously. Dr. Bill Leibfritz, TEPD Mathematics professor, has been providing professional development in mathematical strategic thinking to Gateway teachers, as he provides instruction to the teacher candidates in his elementary math methods course. Currently the professional development focus is surrounding and examining best practice in mathematics and helping the staff build number sense within their P-5 students. With Dr. Leibfritz's facilitation, the staff at Gateway are engaging as a community of learners, as they enhance and refine their math knowledge and skills. Teachers are able to practice problem solving skills in an engaging, hands-on professional development, they reflect on their current teaching methods, and then offer feedback after implementing new teaching strategies in their own classrooms. Since the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, a series of monthly professional development sessions have been provided. The pre-student teachers and classroom teachers are encouraged to co-plan and co-teach mathematics lessons to the elementary students. Dr. Leibfritz is also on-site at Gateway once a week to work with teachers and teacher candidates to improve student learning. Everyone involved is being professionally developed as the Professional Development School model is utilized, in providing current educators with ongoing professional development.
Teacher candidates completing their clinical experience at Gateway have a unique advantage over the traditional clinical experience model, because they are collaboratively working face to face with a strong network of individuals within the four walls of an elementary classroom, on a weekly basis. This creates a meaningful hands-on experience, a superb learning lab with the Cooperating Teacher, CMU faculty, and the CMU Site Coordinator all present. Katie Rinke, Coordinator of Clinical Experiences, is also on-site at Gateway Elementary once a week and serves as a liaison between CMU and St. Johns Public Schools. She is an advocate and a mentor for CMU's Pre-Student Teachers who are collaboratively working with the Cooperating Teachers at Gateway Elementary. Having Katie as an on-site clinical supervisor, allows for immediate support to host teachers and their teacher candidates. She is in the classroom observing teacher candidates and offering helpful feedback, as the candidate grows in their professional dispositions. As a recent elementary teacher, Katie models best practices and classroom management strategies for teacher candidates, as they work with small groups of students. Jean Pingel, 2nd grade teacher, said, "Our partnership with CMU has been a wonderful opportunity for students and staff. Our students benefit with more individual and small group attention from our pre-service teachers. Katie Rinke is an excellent liaison between pre-service teachers and their mentors, keeping everyone moving forward in a positive direction. Dr. Leibfritz is an excellent resource as we strive to improve our math practice in the classroom and through professional development. We are excited to continue our partnership!"
Promoting P-12 Student LearningThis partnership utilizes the resources of CMU faculty and students, St. Johns' teachers and students, and the community resources of local farmers and businesses to improve the student achievement in mathematics for Gateway Elementary. St. Johns Superintendent Dedrick Martin shared, "In order to capitalize on the wealth of agricultural knowledge within St. Johns, the district sought out community thought partners such as Agro-Liquid, Carla Wardin, Farm Bureau and others to help identify key Ag-STEM concepts and opportunities which will be infused into the STEM curriculum." Thanks to the efforts of Clinton County Farm Bureau, a "Farmer in the Classroom" has been implemented, each grade level has been paired with a local farmer, which involves farm field trips and integrated Ag-STEM lessons. The involvement of stakeholders beyond St. Johns School District and Central Michigan University, has strengthened the current PDS model. The partnership will continue to grow and develop over the next four years as future plans include, but are not limited to; integrating agricultural lessons into science and mathematics lessons, teaching CMU methods courses at St. Johns Public Schools, infusing the co-teaching model into the clinical experiences, and expanding the professional development activities into the middle school with educational technology. Students will be introduced to science, technology, engineering and math concepts that have a decidedly agricultural focus, through a partnership between the school district and Central Michigan University. Gateway is more than a place for our teacher candidates to complete their clinical experience, it is a community where the staff, as a collective whole, are committed to preparing future teacher candidates and working with CMU faculty to offer a meaningful introduction to the teaching profession. Gateway has a created a culture that incorporates our Pre-Student Teachers and embraces their active engagement in the school community. We look forward to the possibilities this partnership will bring. ​​



​For more information

Center for Clinical Experiences
College of​​ Education and Human Services
Central Michigan University
421 Education Building
Mt. Pleasant, MI 48859

 ​989-774-7662 ​​​​​​​​​​​​​
College of Education and Human Services | Central Michigan University | | 195 Ojibway Ct | EHS 426 | Mt. Pleasant, MI 48859 | (989) 774-3079