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Promising Partnership Preparation for the New Millennium.

There has always been a need for closer relationships between higher education institutions and public schools. Few educational partnerships are as close as that of "peas in a pod," but that is the analogy used to describe a collaborative partnership model in which faculty members at Fayetteville State University have been engaged with area public schools. This model features the components of: Preparation, Participation, Presentation, and Production. The partnership efforts have taken many forms, and specific collaborative programs resulting from the model are presented in the article. In addition, the article describes the program benefits for all participants, including better prepared pre-service teachers entering the teaching profession.

University faculty and public school educators have not always formed the closest of relationships. According to one partnership source, "communication among school and university faculties has sometimes been difficult ... [as they] work in different cultures, have different priorities and reward systems, and follow separate agendas" (Edelfelt, 1999). Despite these differences, societal changes and school reform demands have required both parties to rethink their positions and engage in ground-breaking relationships for the benefit of both. University-school-community partnerships are examples of these relationships (Epstein, et al., 1997; Tushnet et al., 1995). The term partnership usually connotes some type of close association. According to The Doubleday Dictionary, a partnership means an association consisting of "joint interests or ownership."

Few partnerships are as close as that of "peas in a pod," but that is the analogy we use to describe the partnership associations in which the members of the Department of Middle Grades, Secondary and Special Education in the School of Education at Fayetteville State University have been engaged. In addition to department members, faculty from other disciplines across the University have also been involved. These partnerships have taken many forms: some formal and some informal; some short term and some of substantial duration; some reciprocal and some donating in nature. All share the characteristics of being of joint interest and having some mutual ownership by all parties. Using the "Partnership P's in a Pod" alliteration, this paper will describe a collaborative partnership model featuring the components of: Preparation, Participation, Presentation, and Production. In addition, the program outcomes for all participants will be described (pre-service educators, in-service educators, university faculty, university students, and parents). Specific collaborative efforts resulting from the model are presented.

The Model

The first P in the "Partnership Pod" is that of Preparation. In order to plan and carry out any successful partnership efforts, the developers must have the fertile soil from which to grow ideas. The Department from which the model has evolved is multi disciplinary in make-up consisting of a highly diverse group of faculty and students from three education disciplines, as noted in the title, and numerous concentrations within each discipline. It is a department of general educators and special educators, undergraduate and graduate students, degree and licensure-only students. The needs and interests of both faculty and students are broad and varied. The integrating theme of the department is that of promoting excellence through collaborations. Faculty meetings often turn into planning sessions from which ideas arise. In addition, informal collaborations go on constantly resulting in added partnership efforts. There is an emphasis on dynamic planning of new endeavors to accompany or enhance continuing partnership programs being carded out by department members. As an effort to ensure diversity of disciplines being represented, non-department faculty are often recruited to join the collaborative programs.

The second P in the "Pod" is that of Participation. The goal of partnership efforts employed by the department faculty is involvement by a range of participants. This participation begins with department faculty members themselves. The Department leadership views it's role as supporting, encouraging and enabling the efforts of department members. A varied array of opportunities for collaboration and involvement in partnership efforts are constantly made available. Participation in those opportunities is both encouraged and highly rewarded, as the chair advocates for base merit pay for department members according to group collaboration efforts. Different members take the leadership in different programs, giving both junior and senior faculty experiences in spearheading various efforts. Broad constituent participation is also encouraged. Involvement in department partnerships is open to undergraduate students, particularly teaching interns, as well as graduate students, in-service educators, public school students, administrators, other University personnel, and even parents.

The third P is Presentation. The faculty has engaged in the presentation or implementation of numerous partnership activities over the last several years. A brief description of each of these selected partnering efforts follows:

Project Success. Success is a volunteer tutoring program developed to provide individualized or small group instruction for at risk students at Pauline Jones Elementary School. The tutors include university students enrolled in general and special education courses in teacher education who are supervised by University faculty. A majority of the students receiving tutoring is in the special education program, and an inclusion model is used for the tutoring. Classroom teachers assist the tutors in planning for their experiences. Tutors help the students prepare for annual accountability tests by providing basic skills and content area instructional support.

You Are Special Open House Workshops. The University hosts an annual Open House during which area middle school students are invited to visit campus. They are given tours conducted by college students and attend activities designed by faculty and staff. Department members participate by conducting You Are Special workshops designed to emphasize the uniqueness and worth of each individual. Students engage in hands-on, interactive activities such as developing their own coat-of-arms, practicing the manual alphabet, writing Haiku poetry, and learning folk songs from around the world.

Echoes of the Children. The Echoes program is an annual community event sponsored by the Department which features the talents of youth in areas surrounding the University. It began as a talent search, but its popularity has made searching unnecessary. Students from local communities now volunteer opportunities to showcase their abilities such as singing, dancing, playing musical instruments, making dramatic readings and displaying art work.

Kids in College. Kids in College is a campus-based year round school intersession enrichment program conducted in partnership with a local middle school. In this program 20 students traveled daily to campus during their intersession period to participate in multi disciplinary activities planned and implemented by university faculty, staff and students. These half day sessions consisted of such activities as creating live dances in "Fun with Drums," completing art work using geometric shapes in "Drawing for Beginners," learning investment strategies in "Stock Market on the Internet," and handling live snakes in "Herpetology," (one of the most popular programs!).

Young Writers. The Department promotes effective writing skills and student creativity through the Writers program. This annual story/essay contest is open to area middle schoolers who are invited to write to a theme which is disseminated in advance to their teachers along with the guidelines. Schools submit the best efforts from two categories of students: general and special education. Judging is done by University students and faculty. An awards ceremony involves students, parents, administrators, and University faculty, and monetary and certificate prizes are awarded. The winning entries are collected into an anthology.

Luther "Nick" Jeralds Middle School and Department of Middle Grades, Secondary and Special Education Partnership. The flagship partnership effort of the Department is its involvement with Jeralds Middle School. Following the lead of the professional schools development movement, the Department (and School of Education) have engaged in a formal partnership with this school for mutual skill enhancement of students and staffs of both institutions (Professional development schools). The Jeralds partnership is characterized by: "early-in" internships allowing students longer student teaching experiences; onsite methods courses on the school's campus; training seminars for middle school faculty; follow up seminars with interns on such topics as safe schools, issues in behavior management, and cultural diversity; the development and dissemination of a printed support anthology of resources for interns; and clinical teaching at the University by school faculty.

The fourth P in the "Partnership Pod" is Production. No effort is worthwhile that does not produce value added benefits for its participating partners or constituents. It is important to review and reflect on the collective benefits to the various participating groups prior to repeating or replicating any partnership effort.

University/Department Faculty. Faculty involved in the partnerships have experienced the added value of working collaboratively with each other and public school faculty. They have engaged in problem solving efforts and content exploration to make the partnerships successful. They have been renewed by exposure to "real life" educational experiences.

University Students. University students have had significant and extended field and internship experiences of a practical nature. They have benefitted from a close relationship with the faculties from each site who serve as models and mentors for best practices. Preservice teachers have heightened opportunities to engage in real life, hands on experience with students prior to their formal internships.

Public School In-Service Faculty/Administrators. School faculty and administrators have also experienced collaboration and joint problem solving efforts with their University peers. This has, hopefully, brought a more conscious awareness of current best practices and has given selected school faculty opportunities for clinical teaching or joint professional presentations with university peers.

Public School Students. While no quantitative data has been collected at this time to support achievement gains from this group, it is hoped that students have benefitted from the positive interactions which additional instructional personnel present in their schools and classrooms have provided. It is our goal that some efforts have directly stimulated students to continue their creative efforts or stretch themselves to reach higher academic or personal levels.

Parents. While not a major part of partnerships at this time, the parents who have been included have had opportunities to view their children as potential contributors in the areas of academics and the cultural arts. They have had the satisfaction of seeing legitimate accomplishments by their youngsters, thus encouraging additional support in the future.

The University. The University as a whole benefits constantly from partnership efforts among its component members, because as such efforts are successful, the University is successful. Partnerships done well serve as positive public relations and recruitment tools for persons interested in the University and its programs.

A Final Perspective

The unique feature of these partnership efforts is that they are coordinated by a small department of very diverse faculty exhibiting a high degree of collaboration among its members and others who can easily access each other for planning purposes. Even so, it is easy to suffer from partnership overload, and not all programs run all semesters.

It is clearly apparent that universities overall, and schools of education in specific, must redefine what they do in light of societal needs in the new millennium if they are to remain viable and successful at fulfilling their educational roles. While the goal of "improving the preparation, induction, and development of teachers and school administrators" may not have changed, the methods and strategies for reaching the goal are changing rapidly (Preparing for 21st Century Schools, p. 1). Ivory tower approaches to educating future teachers for eventually educating our school students do not fit a society which is highly culturally and socioeconomically diverse, highly mobile, and extremely vocal about its needs. University programs must be outreach by nature and collaborative by practice. They must involve their constituents during both planning and implementation stages in order to be knowledgeable and sensitive to the educational needs in the marketplace. In addition, such programs do not often have the resources to do all they need to do alone, but rather need the expertise and resources available through shared partnerships. There is room for many P's in the "Partnership Pod."


Edelfelt, R., ed. (1999). University-school teacher education partnerships: First year progress report. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC.

Epstein, J.L., Coates, L., Salinas, K.C., Sanders, M.G., & Simon, B.S. (1997). School, Family, and Community Partnerships: Your Handbook for Action. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Professional development schools. (1998). Teaching and Change. 6(1). Entire issue. Preparing for 21st century schools. (1997). Implementation Plan to Establish University School Teacher Education Partnerships in North Carolina. Dean's Council on Teacher Education. The University of North Carolina Board of Governors. The University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC.

Tushnet, N.C., Fleming-McCormick, T., Manuel, D.M., Nyre, G.F., Schwager, M.T., Danzberger, J., & Clark, M. (1995). Documentation and Evaluation of the Educational Partnerships Program: Final Report. Los Alamitos, CA: Southwest Regional Laboratory.

Wynton H. Hadley, Ed.D., Professor, Middle Grades Education, Fayetteville State University. Virginia J. Dickens, Ph.D., Professor, Special Education, Fayetteville State University, Richard T. Hadley, Ph.D. , Professor, Music, Fayetteville State University, Dorothy G. Brown, Ed.D., Assistant Professor, Elementary Education, Fayetteville State University, Cathy B. Kosterman, Ed.D., Associate Professor, Special Education, and Charlotte Boger, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Middle Grades Education, Fayetteville State University

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Dr. Wynton Hadley, Professor, Fayetteville State University, Fayetteville, North Carolina, 27526.
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Article Details
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Author:Boger, Charlotte
Publication:Journal of Instructional Psychology
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2000
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