Moving A Professional Development School Toward Professional Learning

Nevada is not simply focused on Common Core State Standards (CCSS) but more inclusively, Nevada Academic Content Standards, a broader term that includes multiple content standards. The higher education faculty in the College of Education at the University of Nevada, Reno realized that our work needed to inform and make an impact in our urban and largely diverse school district. Therefore, we have become more inclusive in our partnerships and now include the community, the university, and the school district in a partnership focused on student success to be career and college ready.


One of our first explorations in 2014-2015 was to move beyond our two partnerships with schools in the district to become more inclusive and integrated into the district and local community. We have designated this new initiative as CUSP – Community, University, and School Partnership. This partnership holds the principles of Professional Development Schools but brings in more leaders from the school district in curriculum, teaching, and assessment, as well as representatives from the community, into the collaboration. CUSP brings together faculty from across the district, university, and community to make meaningful connections for preservice and inservice learning experiences. These include: (1) district-university professional development initiatives that are captured through involvement with the district Saturday Cafés; (2) continued exploration of service learning projects for university students across the institution; and (3) outreach activities with university campus projects (e.g., writing workshops) to help address challenges in the school district where over 65% of the students are from underrepresented populations.
Led by Margaret M. Ferrara, College of Education, University of Nevada, Reno, the team consists of Linda Vancitters, Field Based IETP Teacher, Washoe County School District; Sherrie Bonderson, Field Based Secondary Teacher, Washoe County School District; Michelle Hinkson, Field Based Special Education Teacher, Washoe County School District; and Mark Romo, Graduate Assistant, Secondary Education, College of Education, UNR.