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Photo Credit: Watson College of Education

The UNCW Watson College of Education’s Professional Development System (PDS) School-University Partnership has received the 2024 Exemplary PDS Award from the National Association of School-University Partnerships. The award was presented during the NASUP National Conference in Anaheim, California on March 25.

“The Watson College of Education is thrilled to receive national recognition for the strength of our school-university partnerships,” said Carol McNulty, Interim Dean of UNCW’s Watson College of Education. “The PDS partnerships we maintain with teachers, schools and school districts significantly enhance our academic programs. IBEC and SEA-Tech represent the innovation that can result from rich collaboration and the willingness to push the conventional boundaries of educational experiences.”

UNCW’s PDS school-university partnership was created in 1993 to provide classroom learning opportunities for future teachers. Today, PDS spans 11 school districts, a university laboratory school and two public charter schools in Southeastern North Carolina and includes a network of more than 2,000 teachers that work collaboratively to support teacher education students and the needs of teachers, schools and districts in the region.

The NASUP award recognized UNCW’s PDS for creating and sustaining genuine collaborative partnerships with Pre-K-12 schools and for meeting nine essential PDS criteria. The award specifically recognized the strength of the university’s secondary education partnerships with two innovative New Hanover County high schools: Isaac Bear Early College High School and Southeast Area Technical High School (SEA-Tech).

Over the past 10 years, Isaac Bear and SEA-Tech have supported 436 field placements and 29 internships for students enrolled in Watson’s secondary education program. Additional collaborations include schoolwide book studies focused on diversity, culture and storytelling at SEA-Tech and the creation of a Future Teacher Career Academy at Isaac Bear.

“We are proud that this award helps to showcase the depth and breadth of our collaborations with IBEC and SEA-Tech,” said WCE PDS Director Somer Lewis. “Although they are very different, both are innovative, non-traditional high schools that share a commitment to student learning that is challenging, engaging and relevant. These schools provide ideal settings for field experiences and internships for pre-service teachers in our secondary program.”

In addition to collaborating with school partners on classroom experiences for future teachers, WCE’s PDS engages both school and university-based partners on a continuum of professional learning. Signature programs include a PDS Master Teacher Program for experienced teachers, a Promise of Leadership program for teachers early in their careers, a National Board Certification Support Program for teachers seeking the highest possible certification in the teaching profession, and an Educators of Color Network focused on recruitment, retention and advocacy efforts diversifying the education profession. Additional collaborative initiatives support the needs of individual schools and school districts.

This is the second time UNCW’s PDS Partnership has been honored as one of the nation’s best examples of innovative partnerships with public schools. UNCW first won NASUP’s Exemplary PDS award in 2014 for the strength of the Elementary Education Block Network of student classroom placements.

For more information on UNCW’s Professional Development System partnerships, please visit the PDS website.

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