Conference explores school-university partnerships, features National Teacher of the Year

AMES, Iowa -- A policy brief commissioned by the Partnership for Teacher Quality and published earlier this year by Pam Grossmen, a professor of education at Stanford University, made this point clear -- designing high-quality clinical experiences for prospective teachers requires bridging a number of divides between universities and PK-12 schools. And Iowa State University's College of Human Sciences and Teacher Education Program are attempting to do just that Tuesday, hosting a conference focusing on progressive school-university partnerships.

"Partnering for Student Success: A School and University Conference on School Partnerships" will take place between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. in Iowa State's Memorial Union. School administrators and teachers, university faculty and staff, and university supervisors of clinical experiences will attend the event, which has been provided at no cost by the organizers. Ann Foster, executive director of the National Network for Education Renewal; and Sarah Brown Wessling, a Johnston High School language arts teacher and ISU alumnus who was named 2010 National Teacher of the Year, are the keynote speakers.

The conference will explore what the next generation of Iowa State teacher education school district partnerships and field experiences will look like. It will also assess the needs of schools and districts, cooperating teachers, pre-service teachers and university faculty, and how can they be simultaneously addressed within the contexts of partnerships.

"The conference will provide a critical examination of contemporary clinical experience practices and partnerships," said David Whaley, associate dean for teacher education in the College of Human Sciences and director of ISU's University Teacher Education. "Expected outcomes include developing strategies to enhance successful school-university partnerships, developing a plan of action for the future, and cultivating an ongoing informed dialogue."

Wessling -- who holds both a bachelor's degree ('98) and master's degree ('03) in English from Iowa State, where she completed the teacher licensure program -- will also meet with current ISU teacher education students on Tuesday from 11:10 a.m. to noon in MacKay Hall, Room 117.