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The Professional Development School

Susan Lenihan, Fontbonne College

Fontbonne College and St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf in St. Louis have worked collaboratively in the preparation of teachers of the deaf for 35 years. As a professional development school, St. Joseph s has provided preservice teachers with extensive opportunities for participation in the educational process throughout their program. This presentation addressed the benefits and challenges of a professional development school for the education of preservice teachers. Suggestions for successfully developing and implementing such a program were discussed. Strategies for helping a partnership evolve and improve were also discussed. Resources and materials to assist in this process were shared.

The Fontbonne/St. Joseph partnership is also a part of a larger organization called the St. Louis Professional Development School Collaborative which is sponsored by the Danforth Foundation. This network of universities, colleges, and the partnership schools began in 1992 to assist the higher education programs in their efforts to improve teacher education as well as to renew the schools. This network was described as a way to increase connections within a community.

The presentation also included examples of several successful outcomes of the professional development school relationship such as action research projects, professional development opportunities for inservice and preservice teachers, and innovative practices that influence the organizational culture of schools and colleges.