The longstanding relationship between William Paterson University’s College of Education and the nearby Paterson Public School District has been recognized with a 2022 Exemplary Professional Development School Achievement Award, bestowed by the National Association of Professional Development Schools.
WP’s College of Education boasts a large Professional Development School (PDS) network, standing at 64 schools in 23 districts this year, including 14 schools in Paterson, New Jersey—a district with which WP has had its longest official partnership for more than two decades.
The PDS network implements a structure that includes a University professor-in-residence on site at a school at least one full day each week, working alongside its teachers, administrators, and staff toward the attainment of annual goals set by school principals to meet specific, critical needs. The professors-in-residence are matched with schools based on their particular areas of both expertise and experience.
Membership in the network—which is coordinated by Nancy Norris-Bauer, Director of Professional Development and School/Community Partnerships at WP—also affords teachers access to a wide array of professional development workshops and conferences at and through the University.
“The William Paterson University Professional Development Schools Network is a crown jewel in our College of Education, prized through the region as a model of best practices in university, P-12, and community partnerships,” says Amy Ginsberg, dean of the College.
The University’s PDS connection to the Paterson Public School district, she notes, stands out because Paterson is the third largest school district in New Jersey with an enrollment of more than 24,000 students. Moreover, it is among the most diverse district in the state; 95 percent of students come from minority backgrounds, and combined, they speak more than 40 languages. Its schools subsequently have “complex needs,” Ginsberg says, “and our PDS network has been eager to help.”
“Over the course of this partnership, countless administrators, teachers, and students have benefitted from differentiated support, collaborative professional learning communities, innovation, and opportunities to extend their learning beyond the schoolhouse doors,” adds Cicely C. Warren, Paterson Public Schools’ Assistant Superintendent for School Administration.
Relationships forged through the College of Education PDS network have opened doors for University students and professors from various disciplines to work with affiliated schools. Psychology professors Pei-Wen “Winnie” Ma and Aileen Torres, for example, host in-school group therapy sessions for Paterson Schools’ immigrant students, facilitated by WP psychology students who are bilingual. The sessions provide a free service to the Paterson children, experiential learning for the University students, and research data for the professors.
Music faculty regularly invite PDS teachers and students to performances and dress rehearsals with “artist talkbacks” afterwards, and the University Galleries offers special tours and programs for PDS network school children, among other examples.
“This award is a testament to the many teachers, faculty, staff and administrators in Paterson and at William Paterson who have shared a commitment to student success over many years,” says Norris-Bauer.
Representatives from WP and Paterson Public Schools will accept their joint award at the National Association of Professional Development Schools Conference on February 11.