Professional Development School

The Benefits of Professional Development School

Millersville's Professional Development School (PDS) is a full-year internship experience that immerses future teachers in a school setting.  This senior-year apprenticeship with a master teacher allows English BSE students to shift their focus from simply learning about teaching to implementing their learning in the classroom to make a positive impact.

Throughout the year, Millersville BSE students work in a nurturing environment with their mentor teachers to transition from students learning about teaching to career-ready teachers prepared to be in the classroom on their own.  In their fall semesters, BSE's take 5 classes where their work focuses on improving their classroom environments; they also student-teach in regional schools.  In their spring semesters, students co-teach the same class.  This seamless integration between the theoretical aspects in the classroom and the practical implementation simultaneously occurring in the field creates student-teachers able to navigate the ever-changing environments of education.

This award-winning Professional Development School model is recognized by the National Association of Professional Development Schools (NAPDS) for its excellence in training future teachers.  In 2014 Millersville University won the Exemplary Professional Development School Achievement Award.

MU's PDS model forges a mutually beneficial connection between the regional schools and the university through the close collaboration on this program.  MU students benefit from this collaboration through extremely successful placement rates. 

Careful Coordination of Each Student's Professional Development

Mentor teachers participating in the Professional Development School are specially selected.  Mentors must first be interested in mentoring and helping novices adapt to the classroom experience, but they must also be curious about improving their own practices and receptive to co-teaching with MU students in their rooms.  Mentor teachers are eager to enhance classroom experiences through the participation of MU students.

Student teachers are also thoughtfully matched with these mentors.  Students interested in teaching at regional school districts interview at the schools to identify strong matches between school needs and student interests.  Mentor teachers and BSE students meet during these interviews to ascertain whether they have positive teaching/learning chemistry. 

MU teaching faculty visit classrooms to observe 12-15 times during the year to assess the success of the pairing and the experiences being obtained by the teaching intern.  Students assigned to each school system are grouped into a cohort so that they have an active support system within the school and in classes.  Students report that this cohort continues its supportive structure after graduation as students take their positions as full-time teachers in the classrooms.

As a former teaching college, MU prides itself on its preparation of teachers.  Our professional development school not only helps our students excel in their careers and get jobs, but it also helps our regional schools improve their teaching so students benefit.  At Millersville, we happily make this positive impact in our community.

Five classes in Advanced Professional Studies (APS)

Advanced Professional Studies classes will be scheduled on Mondays and Tuesdays; students will be in their mentors' classrooms Wednesdays through Fridays.  Technological innovations are infused into all classes.  Every BSE student receives an iPad to use throughout the year to develop their technological expertise.

The English Teaching Methods class (ENGL 488) will run throughout the semester.  The other 4 classes will only run for part of the semester, so students will be able to manage the learning in both the college classroom and their mentor's classroom.

  • EDSE 321 Issues in Secondary Education presents an overview of the teaching profession and current trends in education.  The course addresses issues of professionalism, evaluation, and general trends in curriculum development and assessment.
  • EDFN 330 Instructional Technology, Design, and Assessment explores using technology to improve assessment.  Classes explore different assessment models and the ways that technology can enhance those models.
  • EDSE 340 Content Area Literacy for Diverse Classrooms focuses on working with English language learners and students with reading disabilities.  The course also develops literacy strategies to communicate content in various disciplines through methods like visual storytelling. 
  • SPED 346 Secondary Students with Disabilities in Inclusive Settings: Educational and Social Implications allows students to develop ways of working effectively with diverse populations of students.

The professors in the five courses coordinate their teaching to the cohorts so that each course reinforces the learning of the other courses.

Become Part of a Tradition of Excellence in Teaching

In 1910, during the 50th anniversary of Millersville as a teaching college, Dr. Lyte stated:

In the onward march of the Normal Schools of the State, Millersville will be found, as she always has been found, in the van[guard], in the preparation of teachers for the public schools of the State. Education must be more fully recognized as a science, and teaching must be accepted as an art which cannot be practiced without full preparation.

We continue that spirit here in the twenty-first century. Millersville has a long reputation of being a superior teaching college, the best in Pennsylvania. During that same 50th anniversary celebration, Dr. Byerly gave the central address, emphasizing the central role of Millersville in the education of everyone in the state:

In the public school calendar of Pennsylvania there are many red-letter days. First in order is April 1, 1834, on which day Governor Ritner approved the act establishing free schools for rich and poor alike, an act that even the succeeding Legislature, selected because of its members' opposition to the measure, failed to repeal because of the logical, masterful, unanswerable and immortal speech of Thaddeus Stevens. This act made it possible for every boy and girl in the State to learn to read, write and cipher, and it served to uplift the whole people. Many new features were added to this bill which brings us to May 8, 1854, when Governor Bigler signed the bill providing for County Superintendents, which was along the line of effort to secure a higher degree of efficiency among teachers and to make of teaching one of the learned professions. These Superintendents forced many men and women either to abandon teaching or to fit themselves for higher standards. This resulted in the County Institute, and on April 17, 1855, the next red-letter day in Millersville, the teachers of the county, 135 of them banded together under James P. Wickersham, to be taught how to teach. The experiment proved a great success, and it paved the way for the opening of the first Lancaster County Normal School [Millersville] in the fall of 1855, with John F. Stoddard as Principal. The success continued and the school was the harbinger of brighter days for the cause of free education.

We invite you to be part of this long tradition of excellence and to contribute to our society through becoming an inspired teacher at Millersville. 
(To find out more about our long tradition, see The Millersvillian from 1910.)