2019 News Stories

USF partnership with Hillsborough County Public Schools receives Exemplary PDS Achievement Award at NAPDS National Conference

National Association for Professional Development Schools National Conference 2019

Faculty and staff from USF and Hillsborough County Public Schools accept the Exemplary PDS Achievement Award from the National Association of Professional Development Schools at the organization's 2019 National Conference. 

TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 18, 2019) – The USF College of Education’s partnership with Mort Elementary School was recognized on Friday at the National Association for Professional Development Schools’ (NAPDS) 2019 National Conference in Atlanta, Ga.

NAPDS is the pre-eminent national organization supporting and advancing school-university collaboration. The Exemplary PDS Achievement Award is awarded to a select group of school-university partnerships whose work creates and sustains genuine collaborative relationships between PK-12 schools and higher education institutions. This is the second time USF has been recognized by NAPDS, with the College of Education’s Elementary Education program receiving the Exemplary PDS Achievement Award in 2014.

In 2013, the College of Education partnered with Hillsborough County Public Schools to support the Mort Elementary Community Partnership School, a 25-year commitment with seven other community partners that prepares high-quality teachers for urban schools, enhances teacher professional learning to improve instructional practices and cultivates teacher leadership to improve student achievement.

Through this partnership, the College of Education worked with Mort to create the Teacher Leader Academy at Mort Elementary, a large urban school located within five miles of USF’s Tampa campus. The Teacher Leader Academy is a customized program that allows teachers at Mort to work toward a Teacher Leader Graduate Certificate or an advanced degree at USF while still on-site in their classrooms, and provides a customized curriculum that addresses the challenges faced by teachers in the school.

The program’s success has helped improve collaborations at the school and build teacher morale. Over the past five years, the school’s performance grade has improved from an “F” to a high “C.” USF also prepares future teachers at Mort Elementary through on-site teacher residencies as part of the College of Education’s Elementary Education program.

“USF’s involvement in the Mort Elementary Community Partnership School is a true exemplar of how schools and universities can partner in robust ways to make a difference in the lives of children,” said College of Education Associate Professor Rebecca Burns, PhD, a co-creator of the program. “Our collaboration with Mort and Hillsborough County Public Schools is a leading national example of a successful community partnership, and it is an honor to work alongside the school district and the Mort community to prepare future teachers, develop teacher leaders and to improve the learning experience for all students. We truly are better together.”

Learn more about USF's work at Mort Elementary School in the video below.