Partnerships between education colleges and public schools may be the key to revitalizing education systems, and no organization understands this better than the BYU–Public School Partnership.
Formed in 1984, the partnership is a collaborative effort to improve public education systems between the David O. McKay School of Education, the arts and sciences colleges at BYU, and five Utah school districts. To honor its ongoing work, the partnership recently received the Exemplary Professional Development School Achievement award at the annual conference of the National Association for Professional Development Schools.
NAPDS is a national organization that advocates for professional development schools. The organization gives an award each year to honor a school/university partnership that has contributed to their mission and vision.
“The award itself reflects the tremendous growth and history of the partnership,” said Gary Seastrand, executive director of the partnership. “To receive this award is an indication that the partnership is atypical and stands out as stellar. This national recognition reflects the deep commitment everyone in the partnership shares to elevate learning and to help all succeed.”
The BYU partnership was chosen for its proactive initiatives. These initiatives include the Associates Program, which connects educators to the moral purposes of education; the Instructional Coaching Academy, which improves the professional development practices of educators through evidence-based teaching methods; and the BYU ARTS Partnership, which revitalizes learning through the arts in elementary schools with conferences such as ARTS Express and The Learning Edge.
“There is purpose in our work and it is noble and enriching,” said Seastrand.“The people who engage in the partnership are extraordinary and bring many gifts and talents that elevate and motivate. It is easy to see why the BYU-PSP was presented with the award this year.”
The February 2020 NAPDS conference hosted more than1,000 educators from across the United States and other countries at the Sheraton Atlantic City Convention Center. The conference focused on partnerships between university education programs and Pre-K–12 schools to enhance student learning.
At the conference, educators led and attended sessions on topics ranging from the role of a university in a public school partnership to narrative-based pedagogy in classroom instruction. BYU faculty and professors led eight classes, each focused on how the BYU-PSP improves education systems and supports teachers. A group from the BYU-PSP led a popular session.
“Leading a Partnership with Vision and Commitment” was taught by Seastrand, BYU education professor Richard Osguthorpe, BYU McKay School of Education Dean Mary Anne Prater, and Vern Henshaw, past chair of the BYU-PSP governing board. The group discussed the powerful leadership structures embedded into BYU-PSP and how other organizations could emulate them.
“We have incredible leaders throughout the partnership who see it as a great benefit and a great return on their investment of time and resources,” said Seastrand.“We have established a culture over the decades that is grounded in trust and selflessness. That is what makes our partnership stand out.”