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The Professional Development School District began with the opening of J.J. Harris Elementary School as a professional development school in August 2009.

In 2011, the Clarke County School District and the University of Georgia College of Education expanded this partnership to include the entire school district. We now have more than a dozen active sites and as many College of Education faculty members serving as professors-in-residence or on-site instructors. More than 500 UGA students participate in courses or field experiences at PDS schools every semester. In 2015, the partnership was recognized for exemplary achievement by the National Association for Professional Development Schools.

Learn About our Partner Schools

Learn About our Partner Schools

The partnership involves all 21 Clarke County schools at different levels. Eleven schools have a combination of professors-in-residence, on-site courses, and field placements. Learn more about our partner schools.

Our Vision and Mission

Vision The Clarke County School District and the University of Georgia College of Education Professional Development School District aspires to transform education at all levels through a systemic, sustained and comprehensive partnership.

Mission The mission of our partnership is to improve the quality of education for all our students through a student-centered approach that fosters:

  • Engagement in learning
  • Interdisciplinary understanding and problem solving
  • Critical inquiry and higher-order thinking skills
  • Authentic learning connected to real-world issues
  • A sense of civic responsibility

We will accomplish our mission by:

  • Engaging in shared inquiry focused on teaching and learning
  • Facilitating the professional development of faculty in both institutions
  • Providing opportunities for clinically rich experiences in educator preparation
  • Sharing our expertise to innovate and to solve problems
  • Integrated decision-making

Adopted Sept. 6, 2012 by the PDSD Coordinating Council

Download our organizational chart

About the Professional Development School District

2008: College of Education faculty and administrators begin meeting with Clarke County School district administrators and members of the Athens community to research existing school-university partnerships in Atlanta, South Carolina, Illinois and Wisconsin. The partnership begins to focus on the professional development school model first proposed by the Holmes Group in the 1980s.

2009: J.J. Harris Elementary School opens as a professional development school, launching the partnership.

In 2011, the Clarke County School District and the University of Georgia College of Education expanded their partnership to include the entire school district.

In 2013, we assisted in launching Experience UGA, an initiative to bring every students in Clarke County to the University of Georgia campus once a year during their time in Clarke County Schools. Through a variety of field trips, students take part in curricular-based activities and become exposed to life on a college campus. Today, field trips are organized through UGA's Experience UGA.

In 2015, the partnership was recognized for exemplary achievement by the National Association of Professional Development Schools.

In 2016, we launched Camp DIVE, a monthlong immersive summer camp for nearly 100 children. This free camp combined literacy exercises with activities, creative experiences, field trips and community organizations to give kids in kindergarten through grade 8 a leg up on learning during the summer.

To date our partnership has:

  • 12+ active professional development school sites
  • 25+ College of Education faculty members serving as professors-in-residence or on-site instructors
  • 500+ UGA students participating in courses or field experiences at professional development schools every semester

District-wide Professors-in-Residence

Portrait of Jennifer Elkins (social work)

Jennifer Elkins (social work)

Jennifer Elkins, associate professor in the School of Social Work, became a district-wide professor-in-residence in fall 2018. Her work focuses on professional learning for CCSD school social workers related to race, equity, other sociocultural dimensions, and trauma informed care to build their capacity to lead social justice initiatives in schools.

Portrait of Sonia Janis (secondary social studies education)

Sonia Janis (secondary social studies education)

Sonia Janis, clinical associate professor in the Department of Educational Theory and Practice, became a district-wide professor-in-residence in fall 2017 after serving as the professor-in-residence at Cedar Shoals High School for three years. She now works with social studies teachers at three middle schools and two high schools. She supports her UGA social studies teacher candidates in classrooms as they lead small-group and collaborative projects, such as the Social Studies Fair, with students throughout the school district. She also mentors secondary social studies teachers who mentor her teacher candidates, and she partners with Laura Ambrose, the district's social studies curriculum coordinator, to provide professional learning.

Portrait of Michael Robinson (social work)

Michael Robinson (social work)

Michael Robinson, associate professor in the School of Social Work, became a district-wide professor-in-residence in fall 2018. His work focuses on professional learning for CCSD school social workers related to race, equity, other sociocultural dimensions, and trauma informed care to build their capacity to lead social justice initiatives in schools.

School-Based Professors-in-Residence

Portrait of Morgan Faison

Morgan Faison

Athens Community Career Academy

Portrait of Lou Tolosa-Casadont

Lou Tolosa-Casadont

Oglethorpe Avenue Elementary School

Office of School Engagement Newsletter

This bi-annual newsletter explores the unique partnerships between the College and surrounding school districts.







PDSD Scholarship and Resources

Faculty and graduate students collaborate with teachers and administrators to conduct research within the context of the PDSD. One book and 23 scholarly articles and book chapters have been published with several more in review.

Want to start a professional development school district?

Members of the PDSD have given more than 100 presentations at national and international conferences.

Articles and Book Chapters

Anderson, B., Grantham, T. and Hines, M. (2016) Lessons learned from teaching a service-learning course on minority student talent development. Gifted Education Press Quarterly.

Andrews, G., & Thompson, K.F. (2016). Relationships and context matter: Tales from a middle school-university partnership. In P. Howell, J. Carpenter, & J. Jones (Eds.), The handbook of resources for middle level education, Clinical preparation at the middle level: Practices and Possibilities. Greenwich, CT: Information Age Publishing.

Blankenship, S., Nix, M., Andrews, G., & Thompson, K. (2015). It takes a village: Rethinking how we engage families. AMLE Magazine, 3(4).

Campbell, B., (Spring 2016), Teach to Learn: One Example of the Many PDS Partnership Programs, PDS Partners.

Campbell, B. K., Barlament, J. D., Peacock, A. R., Huff, G., Dresden, J., Price, N., & Gilbertson, E. L.(2015). Teach to Learn: An example of an early career teacher development program. In J. A. Luft & S. L. Dubois (Eds.), Newly hired teachers of science: A better beginning (pp. 115-128). Rotterdam, The Netherlands: Sense.

Dresden, J., with Blankenship, S. S., Capuozzo, R. M., Nealy, A. U., and Tavernier, M. D. (2016). What is a PDS? Reframing the conversation. School-University Partnerships 9(3), 64-80.

Dresden, J., Gilbertson, E., & Tavernier, M. (Spring, 2016). University of Georgia and Clarke County School District: Creating a Dynamic and Sustainable District-Wide Partnership. School- University Partnerships.

Dresden, J., Kittleson, J. M., & Wenner, J. A. (2014). Clinically rich practices: Review and recommendations. In J. Ferrara, J. Nath, & I. N. Guadarrama (Eds.), Creating Visions for University/School Partnerships: A Volume in Professional Development School Research. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing, Inc.

Freeman, M. & Hall, J. N. (2012, April). The complexity of practice: Participant observation and values engagement in a responsive evaluation of a professional development school partnership. The American Journal of Evaluation, online first.

Grantham, T. C., Solomon, M., Hines, M.E., Anderson, B. N., & Dennis, A. (2016). Nurturing cultural competence in under-represented minority groups in gifted and advanced programs using community problem solving. In Davis, J.L & Moore, J.L. (Eds.) Gifted Children of Color. New York: Sense Springer.

Hall, J.N. & Freeman, M. (2014). Shadowing in formative evaluation: Making capacity building visible in a professional development school. The American Journal of Evaluation, 35(4), 562-578.

Hines, M., Anderson, B., and Grantham, T. (2016). Programs that promote opportunity, rigor and achievement for high-ability students in low-income schools and communities. Designing Programs and Services for High Ability Learners (2nd ed.) Waco, TX: Prufrock Press.

Hughes, H. E., Moulton, M. J., & Andrews, P. G. (2016). Learning through crisis and paradox in justice-oriented teacher education. Middle Grades Review, 1(3), Art. 4.

James, J. H., Kobe, J. F., Shealey, G., Foretich, R., & Sabatini, E., (November, 2015). Authentic collaborative inquiry: Toward understanding children's civic mindfulness in the 21st century. School-University Partnerships.

Janis, S., Schmeichel, M., & McNulty, J. (2019). Engaging Goodlad's Postulates in Clinically-Based Social Studies Education. School-University Partnerships, 12(3).

Kerr, S., Schmeichel, M., & Janis, S. (May 2015). Using Evernote as an interactive notebook with pre-service social studies teachers. Social Studies Research and Practice: Technology Integration.

Kittleson, J., Dresden, J., & Wenner, J. (2013). Describing the "Supported Collaborative Teaching Model": A designed setting to enhance teacher education. School-University Partnerships, 6(2), 20-31.

McGraw, A., Dresden, J. Gilbertson, E. & Baker, M. (2017). Site-based teacher education as a context for attending to the complexity and person-centred nature of teaching and learning: a narrative inquiry involving teacher educators from Australia and the United States. In Nuttall, J., Kostogriz, A., Jones. M. & Martin., J. (Eds.). Teacher Education Policy and Practice – Evidence of Impact, Impact of Evidence. Singapore: Springer.

Schmeichel, M., Janis, S. & McAnulty, J. (Mar/Apr 2016). Why has there never been a woman president in the US? An inquiry lesson. Social Education, 80(2), 89-95.

Smith, R. A. & Ebron, B. (Fall 2015). Are You a Real Teacher? A Teacher and Graduate Student Exchange in a PDS. PDS Partners.

Zepeda, S.J., Lanoue, P.D., Price, N. F. & Jimenez, A. M. (2014): Principal evaluation – Linking individual and building-level progress: Making the connections and embracing the tensions, School Leadership & Management: Journal, 34(4), 324-351. doi: 10.1080/13632434.2014.928681.

Zepeda, S.J., Jimenez, A., & Lanoue, P.D. (2015). New practices for a new day: Principal professional development to support learning cultures in schools. LEARNing Landscapes, 9(1), 303-319. ISSN 1913-5688

Zepeda, S.J., & Lanoue, P.D. (2017). Conversation walks: Improving instructional leadership. Educational Leadership, 74(8), 58-61.

Zepeda, S.J., Lanoue, P.D., Creel, W.G., & Price, N.F. (2016). Supervising and evaluating principals—The new work of superintendents and central office personnel. In J. Glanz & S.J. Zepeda (Eds.), Supervision: New perspectives for theory and practice (pp. 63-79). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

Published Book

Lanoue, P.D., & Zepeda, S.J. (2018). The emerging work of today's superintendent: Leading schools and communities to educate all children. Lanham, MD; Rowman & Littlefield and post co-published by AASA.

Zepeda, S.J. (2015). Job-embedded professional development: Support, collaboration, and learning in schools. New York, NY: Routledge.

Professional Learning



The goal of our co-teaching model is for all teacher candidates (student teachers), mentor teachers, and teacher candidate supervisors (faculty and graduate students) to participate in professional learning about co-teaching, then use these co-teaching strategies throughout the semester.

Every summer, we offer foundational co-teaching workshops to 75-100 mentor teachers. Also, teacher candidates who will be student teaching, along with their university supervisors, take part in foundational co-teaching training at the beginning of each semester.

More than 500 mentor teachers, teacher candidates, and supervisors have participated in the workshop. Mentor teachers and teacher candidates also have an additional opportunity to get to know each other better and begin the process of co-planning during a co-teaching "pairs workshop" at school sites.

Co-Teaching Research

Research conducted by faculty at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota has shown that the co-teaching model of student teaching not only benefits teacher candidates and mentor teachers, but results in higher K-12 student achievement.

Co-teaching benefits include increased options for flexible grouping of students, enhanced collaboration skills for the teacher candidate and cooperating teacher, and professional support for both the cooperating teacher and the teacher candidate.



In our PDSD Mission Statement, we state that we will "improve the quality of education for all students by engaging in shared inquiry focused on teaching and learning." We decided that this process of shared inquiry would allow us to systematically provide insight into classrooms and schools in order to see where improvements could be made.

Here are some of the steps in our collective inquiry process:

  • In October 2015, Nancy Fitchman Dana, professor of education at the University of Florida, was the keynote speaker at our third annual PDS Workshop. She shared the potential for using teacher inquiry to respond to students' needs and as a way for teachers' voices to be heard.
  • In July 2016, more than 100 faculty and administrators gathered for an all-day workshop with Dana to learn more about engaging in professional development through inquiry. We examined the role of inquiry in a PDS by considering what inquiry is, what it looks like, and how it might be structured within a PDS.
  • Also that summer, Janna Dresden began a study of the PDSD's attitudes about practitioner inquiry in order to document the growth of our collective thinking over the next several years.
  • At the September 2016 PDSD Coordinating Council meeting, we collectively checked in with one another about how schools were progressing with their plans to begin the inquiry process. School groups then discussed what the inquiry process might look like at their school, what supports would be needed, and what barriers would need to be overcome in order to begin to use inquiry as a tool for professional learning.

Contact Us

Interim director: Erica Gilbertson

Suite G-7, Aderhold Hall 110 Carlton St. Athens, GA 30602