Promising Partnership Preparation for the New Millennium

Article excerpt

There has always been a need for closer relationships between higher education institutions and public schools. Few educational partnerships are as close as that of "peas in a pod," but that is the analogy used to describe a collaborative partnership model in which faculty members at Fayetteville State University have been engaged with area public schools. This model features the components of: Preparation, Participation, Presentation, and Production. The partnership efforts have taken many forms, and specific collaborative programs resulting from the model are presented in the article. In addition, the article describes the program benefits for all participants, including better prepared pre-service teachers entering the teaching profession.

University faculty and public school educators have not always formed the closest of relationships. According to one partnership source, "communication among school and university faculties has sometimes been difficult ... [as they] work in different cultures, have different priorities and reward systems, and follow separate agendas" (Edelfelt, 1999). Despite these differences, societal changes and school reform demands have required both parties to rethink their positions and engage in ground-breaking relationships for the benefit of both. University-school-community partnerships are examples of these relationships (Epstein, et al., 1997; Tushnet et al., 1995). The term partnership usually connotes some type of close association. According to The Doubleday Dictionary, a partnership means an association consisting of "joint interests or ownership."

Few partnerships are as close as that of "peas in a pod," but that is the analogy we use to describe the partnership associations in which the members of the Department of Middle Grades, Secondary and Special Education in the School of Education at Fayetteville State University have been engaged. In addition to department members, faculty from other disciplines across the University have also been involved. These partnerships have taken many forms: some formal and some informal; some short term and some of substantial duration; some reciprocal and some donating in nature. All share the characteristics of being of joint interest and having some mutual ownership by all parties. Using the "Partnership P's in a Pod" alliteration, this paper will describe a collaborative partnership model featuring the components of: Preparation, Participation, Presentation, and Production. In addition, the program outcomes for all participants will be described (pre-service educators, in-service educators, university faculty, university students, and parents). Specific collaborative efforts resulting from the model are presented.

The Model

The first P in the "Partnership Pod" is that of Preparation. In order to plan and carry out any successful partnership efforts, the developers must have the fertile soil from which to grow ideas. The Department from which the model has evolved is multi disciplinary in make-up consisting of a highly diverse group of faculty and students from three education disciplines, as noted in the title, and numerous concentrations within each discipline. It is a department of general educators and special educators, undergraduate and graduate students, degree and licensure-only students. The needs and interests of both faculty and students are broad and varied. The integrating theme of the department is that of promoting excellence through collaborations. Faculty meetings often turn into planning sessions from which ideas arise. In addition, informal collaborations go on constantly resulting in added partnership efforts. There is an emphasis on dynamic planning of new endeavors to accompany or enhance continuing partnership programs being carded out by department members. As an effort to ensure diversity of disciplines being represented, non-department faculty are often recruited to join the collaborative programs. …