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SERVE Conference: PDSD takes part in 1st regional event

November 10, 2017

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On Sept. 30, 11 UGA faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students and Clarke County School District teachers, traveled to Atlanta to the first PDS South East Regional Vision for Education conference, known as SERVE.

SERVE is a new professional development school-focused organization and will be a regional affiliate of the National Association for Professional Development Schools.

The inaugural conference was hosted by Georgia State University, and the day-long event brought together colleagues from UGA, GSU, the University of South Carolina, Georgia Southern University, Albany State University, and Columbus State University, several school districts and visitors from South Africa.

SERVE provided a space for regional colleagues to share experiences from their partnership work and gain insight into the partnership work of others in the area. The UGA-CCSD partnership was well represented, with presentations offered during every session of the conference.

For UGA students, the opportunity to present work at SERVE was a rare treat, as most conferences require out-of-state travel. Pam Shearer, a second-grade teacher in Clarke County schools and 40-year teaching veteran who is pursuing her educational specialist degree at UGA, was excited about participating. "SERVE gave me the opportunity to be inspired by educators who are making a difference at every level of education. I left challenged to be a difference-maker with my own students," Shearer said.

Gwendolyn Benson, associate dean for faculty development and partnerships at Georgia State University, said the conference was a great way to share and support the work of professional development schools. "We certainly met our initial goal by providing a regional platform for presentations, discussions, and suggestions for moving our PDS research conversation forward."

Plans are already underway for the 2018 SERVE conference, likely to be at the University of South Carolina.

PDS SERVE was established in direct response to professional development school practitioners in the Southeast, said Susan Ogletree, chair of the SERVE executive board and faculty at Georgia State.

"There are many new professional development school programs and because we believe it is important for all voices to be heard, we decided to establish PDS SERVE," she said. "It seeks to provide an affordable forum for K-12 teachers and principals, university clinical educators and students from both areas to present on educational research and best practices that are being researched/used in our professional development schools."