Elementary Teaching Program Partners With Two New Professional Development Schools

Elkins Primary Principal Nicky Anderson greets College of Education and Health Professions teacher candidates on their first day at the school.
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Elkins Primary Principal Nicky Anderson greets College of Education and Health Professions teacher candidates on their first day at the school.

The College of Education and Health Professions' K-6 elementary teaching program added two new partnerships this fall as part of its Professional Development School initiative.

Elkins Primary School and Kirksey Middle School in Rogers are now part of the program.

U of A faculty were recently invited to Kirksey's Harry Potter-type "house sorting" process to experience how the school builds community between their 6th-8th grade students, who will belong to the house throughout their time at the middle school. Principal Jeremy Yates said of this annual kickoff to their school year, "It's so important to our culture and helps us focus all year long. We can literally tie anything and everything back to houses and that positive competitiveness and spirit." 

At Elkins Primary School, instructors Wyann Stanton and Natalie Edwards deliver their emergent literacy courses on Tuesday through Friday mornings with U of A teacher candidates. In addition to learning on-site from school faculty and administrators, and engaging in classroom observations, these candidates will tutor kindergartners, said Bonnie King, the Professional Development School's coordinator for the U of A K-6 teacher preparation program and a teaching assistant professor. The tutoring is being supported in collaboration with joining the Arkansas Department of Education's Arkansas Tutoring Corp, which allows candidates to be paid stipends while tutoring K-12 students in Elkins or anywhere in the state of Arkansas.

As part of the PDS initiative, U of A instructors deliver certain courses and require their students to meet specific field experience requirements weekly in area K-6 schools. At Kirksey, the PDS instructors are Karmen Bell and Angela Elsass, along with graduate assistant Megan Chaffin.

"The PDS model for course delivery allows for the candidates to be taught by U of A faculty the content for the course in a classroom in the partnership school, and then they can immediately visit classrooms to see the theory put into practice," King said. "The candidates then are debriefed after the observation by U of A faculty and/or partnership faculty to deepen their understanding of the 'teacher thinking' behind the actions observed."

King said they are excited to partner with Elkins and Kirksey this fall. "Purposefully planning diverse PDS placements each semester for our teacher candidates sets them up for success and longevity in our profession wherever they begin their teaching careers after graduation," she noted.


Shannon G. Magsam, director of communications
College of Education and Health Professions
479-575-3138, magsam@uark.edu


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