The College of Education and Human Performance’s Professional Development School Consortium is helping to achieve UCF’s goal of becoming “America’s Partnership University” by engaging undergraduates, faculty, community school teachers, and local school districts in mutually beneficial programs. Those efforts have extended to a number of schools in the Central Florida area, including Stenstrom Elementary in Oviedo.

Two different UCF courses are being offered on the Stenstrom Elementary campus: the lower-division course features teacher candidates providing weekly one-on-one tutoring to first graders as they learn how to assess and instruct students in reading. The upper-division course involves students enrolled in internship 1, and is a reading practicum where UCF students conduct student assessments then provide this data to the classroom teachers in order to facilitate student achievement in literacy.

“Being able to teach my courses at an elementary school is a win-win for all,” Dr. Michelle Kelley, UCF faculty member and program leader tells us. “UCF students get ‘hands-on’ experiences and are able to apply what I have taught immediately. The first-graders get targeted instruction, and the classroom teachers reduce their class size. I think the sooner our UCF students can get into schools, the better prepared they will be to teach.”

The professor-in-residence model employed in these courses promotes interaction among the faculty and staff, as well as with the teacher candidates. The on-site nature of the courses allows students to simultaneously implement what they are learning, from tutoring individual grade school students to performing student assessments and collaborating on activity development and lesson planning.

Jenna Martucci, junior student in elementary education, sees tremendous benefits for her own teaching experience and professional development. “The opportunity to take a UCF course at an elementary school is a definite advantage for elementary education majors,” Jenna told us. “I am very glad that I chose this course. Connecting with my assigned student, Adassa, and building a relationship with her has been my favorite part. Working one-on-one with Adassa has given us time to work on her strengths and needs. We have worked on reading, spelling, vocabulary, punctuation, and different assessments throughout the semester. I have seen tremendous improvement in Adassa’s work and within my own, too.”

Kemonni Jackson, also a junior in the Elementary Ed program, recounted the many benefits he has seen while working on-site with the Stenstrom students. “This is actually the main reason I chose to pursue being a teacher – I want to empower tomorrow’s leaders in any way I can,” he told us. “These weekly interactions with (my assigned student) Jonas, Dr. Kelley, and the Stenstrom staff are great ways of preparing me for what lays ahead. They recently started FSA (Florida Standards Assessment) testing and I love the environment that they have created: warm, encouraging, safe, but serious about learning. This is the atmosphere I wish to create in my classroom someday. … I’m looking forward to these final weeks of working with Jonas and learning the ins and outs of reading assessments as the end of the semester approaches.”

As a result of these on-campus efforts at Stenstrom, Dr. Michelle Kelley was asked to facilitate professional learning communities (PLCs) with the teachers at this school. The PLC model offers the teachers at Stenstrom an opportunity to continue their professional development with the assistance and expertise of a UCF faculty member on site. Beyond the convenience of having access to this opportunity at the elementary school, the Stenstrom teachers get to study and implement the latest research and educational practices directly related to the Language Arts Florida Standards.

The Professional Development School Consortium is just one unique feature of education programs offered at UCF. Several programs and courses are tailored to providing hands-on experience and preparation necessary to achieve and maintain certification.