District 15 is the home of the Illinois State University (ISU) College of Education’s newest Professional Development School (PDS).
The two institutions entered into an agreement to establish the program in District 15 earlier this year. The partnership’s aim is to assist in the professional development of teachers and the training of educators while simultaneously improving schools and teacher education.
The PDS program offers ISU’s senior education students a yearlong internship in a public school rather than just a 16-week student teaching experience. The program allows the interns to “live the life of a teacher” all year. They meet students on the first day of school. They go to conferences, make lesson plans, and attend institute days. They experience what it’s really going to be like as a teacher while providing instructional support for our students.
ISU entered into its first PDS partnership in 1995 with Community Consolidated School District 21 in Wheeling, and, because the program has proven to be mutually beneficial for all involved, its number of partner school districts has continued to grow, and PDS opportunities are now available throughout the state.
In the first year of this partnership, District 15 has provided seven ISU students with internships: Sarah Betti, Katie Kunzweiler, Bridget Lenahan, Gina Gagliano, Tracie Widmaier, Melissa Brand, and Jennifer Schmitt. They are under the supervision of Ann Bokor, who serves as the District’s PDS site coordinator and a liaison between the District and ISU’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction.
During their first semester in the PDS program, these interns are splitting their time, working in their assigned elementary schools the first three days of each week, and then joining District 21’s interns to complete their college coursework on Thursdays and Fridays.
The interns have already completed the elementary portions of their internships at Winston Campus Elementary and Jane Addams, Stuart R. Paddock, and Gray M. Sanborn Schools. In mid-October, they began serving the junior high portion of their internships at Winston Campus Junior High. They returned to their elementary assignments the week before winter break to reconnect with their classes and prepare to start their full-time student teaching experiences in the second semester of the program.
-Story Submitted by Community Consolidated School District 15