Lakeland College and the Sheboygan Area School District (SASD) have partnered to form a Teacher Development Institute that provides additional professional development training for Sheboygan teachers.
The institute is unique in that the coursework will directly relate to the district's academic goals and ties in with the district's teacher evaluations as part of the Wisconsin Educator Effectiveness System.
"I am very pleased that the Sheboygan Area School District and Lakeland College have agreed to collaborate in establishing an institute to offer a specially designed, home-grown professional development series," said Mehraban Khodavandi, the director of Lakeland's Graduate Education Programs and a professor of education and psychology.
"The main purpose of this joint venture is to provide high quality instruction over a period of time to examine and support effective teaching practices that will lead to and enhance students' learning and achievement."
"It's a great opportunity to partner with Lakeland College in offering a highly customized professional development opportunity for our teachers," said Joseph Sheehan, superintendent of the Sheboygan Area School District. "We are fortunate to have the resources right here in Sheboygan County to support our teachers with higher learning directly related to our district goals. We believe that the combination of best practice and Educator Effectiveness concepts will have a significant impact on quality instruction."
"This program is special in the way that it will be offered over time rather than be presented in a couple of infrequent and sporadic workshops disconnected to teaching practices and student learning," Khodavandi said. "I envision that this program will give our teachers a greater opportunity to learn new ideas and skills for improving their instruction which will ultimately lead to student achievement."
The partnership evolved from SASD wanting to build its own staff development program that directly embraces the district's educational goals. The program consists of five courses and will explore new and effective ideas in the areas of instructional practices, assessment, school and classroom leadership techniques and other elements that are critical for supporting and promoting effective teachers.
The classes are offered by Lakeland and taught by professional educators including SASD employees at one of the district's schools. The courses will carry graduate credits and will be offered in a cohort format, with a maximum of 30 teachers per cohort. Each cohort of teachers that successfully completes the series of classes will be moved up one step on the district's salary schedule.
The course dates and formats will be flexible based on the cohort members. The three-credit classes are $300 each and paid for by the individual teacher. The first cohort will begin coursework this September and complete the classes in the summer of 2017.
The course credits can be applied towards a master's degree for those who want to pursue additional education. Tuition discounts are available for SASD teachers who decide to pursue their master's through Lakeland.
Lakeland President Dan Eck said he hopes the institute will become a model for future partnerships with other school districts.
"Budgets for schools are tight, and districts are looking for creative ways to provide services not only for students but for their employees," Eck said. "We would like to partner with other districts who are looking for ways to provide additional training for their teachers. We have the flexibility to help create programs that help them achieve their specific district goals."