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Clinical associate professor gives conference presentation on partnership with school district

Sara Kajder, clinical associate professor and director of clinical practice in the Mary Frances Early College of Education’s Department of Language and Literacy Education and Office of Clinical Practice, recently gave a presentation on the partnership between UGA and Clarke County School District (CCSD) at the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC) 28th Annual Certification and Program Officials Conference.

Headshot of Sara Kajder

The annual conference gathers educator preparation officials from across Georgia, with conference presentations on topics like assessments, certification, reading, and more.

The presentation, “(Re)imagining Our Practice: How School/University Partnerships Evolve with Intention and Purpose,” was developed by Kajder and Christopher Pendley, director of employee development at CCSD. Kajder gave the presentation without Pendley, who could not make it to the conference.

“Our presentation centered on unpacking the history of our partnership over the past decade and a half in an attempt to illustrate how school-university partnerships shift responsively over time to meet the needs of K-12 learners and the teachers who learn alongside them,” Kajder said. “Where that requires necessary moments of struggle and unlearning, it also has led to abundant opportunities to do better things, not just ‘things’ better.”

The partnership began in 2009, evolving to include induction support for new teachers and community-building online, as well as fostering professional development and mentorship.

Kajder said the session allowed for earnest conversation with attendees about how teaching continues to change, interventions the partnership aims to enact that will support induction teachers, and how they imagine mentorship to be at the center of the next phase of the work.

In addition, she said Pendley and herself represent a much larger team of faculty, district leaders, and teachers who have anchored, driven, and innovated within the partnership over the past several years.

“What mattered in this session was that the state was reaching out to us as a model—what an honor, but, also, what an opportunity to talk about what is really at stake in this work,” she said. “We didn’t just share numbers and lists of projects, we shared about how we have grown together as a collaborative learning community. That doesn’t just happen.”

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