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Fifth-graders among presenters at NAPDS conference

Erica Gilbertson

April 18, 2019

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The annual meeting for the National Association for Professional Development Schools (NAPDS) took place Feb. 16-18 in Atlanta. The year’s conference location made it possible for both Clarke County School District and UGA College of Education representatives involved in the Professional Development School District partnership to attend and present.

Over the course of the three days, 36 colleagues from the partnership shared 15 presentations. Sessions covered topics such as raising cultural consciousness, district-level curriculum, college and career readiness, the importance of play, culturally responsive advisement and teacher empowerment.

Seven Fowler Drive Elementary School fifth-grade students also presented at the conference and received special recognition at its keynote luncheon. The students led a panel discussion, along with one teacher and two UGA teacher candidates, to share their experiences with a unique program, Fowler University.

Each week a group of fourth- or fifth-graders joins the UGA class of pre-service teachers in their Integrated Curriculum in the Early Childhood Classroom course, which is taught on-site at the school by Beth Tolley, professor-in-residence and clinical associate professor in the department of educational theory and practice. When the elementary students arrive in the college class, called Fowler University, they are exposed to college-level activities, and UGA teacher candidates learn first-hand from the students.

Other NAPDS presentations included a combination of Clarke County teachers and/or administrators, UGA faculty and UGA graduate students, exemplifying the importance of varied stakeholders in partnership work.

In addition to sessions, participants interested in professional development school research met throughout the conference to begin the formation of a national professional development school research agenda. Educators interested in learning more about professional development schools are invited to attend the NAPDS regional affiliate conference, the PDS Southeastern Region Vision for Education conference Oct. 26 at Georgia State University in Atlanta.