The UCF Professional Development School Consortium implements current research into practice with its collaborative planning partnership between the UCF College of Education and Human Performance’s faculty and students and area P-12 schools.

The consortium’s faculty coordinate with 11 Central Florida P-12 schools and promote teacher development by using current research while providing pre-service and in-service teachers with educational tools in the classroom.

PDS has been progressing since its relaunch last fall by deepening its partnership with Central Florida schools like the UCP Bailes Charter School. The inclusive school, which combines children with and without disabilities in the classroom, has been serving infants to 5th grade students near UCF’s main campus for the past six years.

A few years after the charter school opened, CEDHP’s exceptional-student education associate professor Rebecca Hines offered UCP CEO Ilene Wilkins an opportunity to redevelop their education model with a formal relationship with the college through the PDS consortium. The charter school tweaked its program with the assistance of PDS.

“We re-examined our original charter goals and realized that technology was underutilized and worked hard to find innovative ways to integrate technology for children of all ability levels with the PDS consortium,” said UCP’s director of education and instruction Anna O’Connor-Morin. “The partnership also helped the school’s project-based learning to flourish and assisted with structuring a teacher-led ownership model, which gave teachers more control in the classroom.”

O’Connor-Morin expressed to Hines that she would like to take the joint effort to the next level by having teaching assistants that were fully committed and skilled along with 110 percent student involvement.

Hines felt a year-round, CEDHP teacher-assistant internship with the students being employed full-time at UCP Bailes was the answer and pitched the concept to college administration last spring. After Hines received approval, the Teacher in Residence program was born.

“The Teacher in Residence program is a pilot project with an emergent design that has the potential to grow beyond our PDS consortium partnerships,” explained Hines. “Future educators are placed in immersive situations, which will enhance their teaching. The Teacher in Residence program model can also be used at any interested PDS school.”

The program’s qualifications include being an enrolled elementary-education major with a minor in exceptional-student education preferred.

UCP Bailes Teachers in Residence Erin Anderson, Edinson Aramburu, Christa Haggerty and Erin Judah were selected by O’Connor-Morin and Hines for the 2015-2016 school year. The TIRs have been working at the school since the beginning of August and are receiving supervised, hands-on teaching experience in the classroom.

Elementary-education major Anderson has a minor in exceptional-student education and is a TIR for second and third graders at the charter school. She’s grateful for having an opportunity to “learn first-hand and receive real-world experience.” She has also found that “you’ll be successful if you immerse yourself and take ownership in the classroom.”

Her student encounters have included making a breakthrough with a child who had difficulties with writing and receiving a hug after he wrote a sentence by himself. Teaching kids is her favorite part of the TIR program.

“I love my kids. I have between 50-60 second and third graders and know all of their names. I could be having the worst day, but when I walk into the classroom, the children just put a smile on my face.”