Clarkfield and Granite Falls, MN/Marshall, MN

Professional Development School

Document Originally Designed November 1, 2000

Three Contract Signed June 24, 2002


Professional Development Schools are specially structured schools in which the P-12 school and higher education faculty collaborate to (1) provide practicum, student teaching, and internship experiences; (2) support and enable the professional development of school and higher education faculty; (3) support and enable inquiry directed at the improvement of practice; and (4) support and enhance student achievement. PDSs require the institutional commitment of colleges and universities, school districts, and teachers' organizations.

Professional Standards for the Accreditation of Schools, Colleges, and Departments of Education. (2002).

National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. p. 55.


Granite Falls was one of five Center School Sites that provided student teaching experiences for teacher candidates when teacher education using the Individually Guided Education model began at SMSU in the late 1960s. In the late 1980s Granite Falls and Clarkfield joined forces. YME faculty members have been consultant instructors for education courses and have served on advisory committees throughout the history of the partnership. SMSU faculty members have also been consultants instructors in the YME schools, especially related to mentoring. Many teacher candidates have had field experiences and/or student teaching experiences in the YME District. In 1998 a grant proposal was submitted to the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) to field test their draft standards on Professional Development Schools (PDS). The proposal was not funded but ideas contained in the proposal moved forward. In 1998 the year-long elementary internship program began as a pilot project and continues as a pilot project. In the Spring of 2000 YME Administrators went to SMSU President Sweetland to describe the project and ask for more support. Faculty load from the Education Department was set aside for a liaison to work with the PDS. At YME the Curriculum and Instruction Coordinators serve as liaison to the PDS. In the Fall of 2000 the PDS Draft Contract Proposal was developed and received support from YME teachers and administrators and from SMSU faculty and administrators. The Contract has been revised a few times and is ready for signatures. The Coordination Team that has responsibility to develop, assess, and guide the future of the partnership had its first meeting on Tuesday, February 6, 2001.


The purpose of this Professional Development School (PDS) is to collaborate on four areas of education: (1) student learning, (2) teacher preparation, (3) staff development and (4) educational research. To do this we are committed to:

  • an equal partnership between the Southwest Minnesota State University Education

Department and the Yellow Medicine East School District on all issues of

policy and practice;

  • an environment which integrates the learning of adults and children;

3. continuous renewal of both the School District and the Education Department.

Five critical standards of the partnership are important to all four areas of education.

  • A learning-centered community with equitable opportunities that support the integrated learning of P-12 students, teacher candidates, faculty and other adults of the partnership is a priority.
  • Accountability and quality assurance to the public and to the profession for upholding professional standards for teaching and learning and for preparing new teachers based on these standards is maintained.
  • There is collaboration between and among the School and University faculty, P-12 students, teacher candidates, and other adults to accomplish the goals of the partnership.
  • The PDS partners develop and demonstrate policies and practices which support and ensure diversity and equity of learning for all participants.
  • The partnership uses organization, roles, and structures and the allocation of resources and time to systematize the continuous processes of learning, teaching, learning to teach, and building community.


  • The students of the YME School District will benefit from additional learning opportunities with additional pre-service teachers/interns and a teaching team that can provide ongoing attention to individual needs and from experiencing school changes that result from action research into best practices.
  • The pre-service teachers and interns of SMSU will benefit from integrating theory and practice; having longer and expanded experiences and relationships with students, staff, parents, and the community; teaching in teams; and by experiencing intellectual stimulation with joint action research projects.
  • The faculty of the YME School District will benefit from having a teaching partner, from practicing the role of mentor, regular contact with SMSU teachers, and by experiencing intellectual stimulation with joint action research projects.
  • The faculty of the SMSU Education Department will benefit from having regular interaction with P-12 students and staff and from experiencing intellectual stimulation with joint action research projects.


The Administrative Team will be made up of the YME Superintendent; YME Education Association President; and the SMSU Dean of Business, Education, and Professional Studies. The duties will be the official business of the PDS, including contract agreements and budget allocations. The partnership will renew support for a three (3) year period commencing August 1, 2002.

The PDS Coordination Team will include members of the Administrative Team, the School liaison(s), the University liaison, a representative of Education Minnesota, a representative of the SMSU Faculty Association, the three principals, two or three education faculty members, two or three liberal arts faculty, three mentor teachers (one from each building), two interns, three to four YME parent representatives and one or two community members.

The PDS Coordination Team will meet a minimum of two times per year (beginning with a fall retreat) to provide guidance and review of the PDS. This team will develop a strategic plan of action and assess progress toward meeting the goals of the PDS. Members will solicit ideas from other professionals for projects that advance the functions, standards, and benefits of the PDS. (In the planning year (2000-2001), the Coordination Team met for two half-day retreats and one additional time to develop the plans.) The principals, School and University liaisons facilitate the day-to-day activities of the PDS.


An Education Department faculty member currently has three credits of load per semester as the University liaison for the PDS. Duties include facilitating the learning of those involved in the partnership and the pre-internship course 1001-459, and coordinating activities of the PDS. The pre-internship course includes facilitating other education courses. The credit load should be reviewed annually as projects develop.

The Curriculum and Instruction Coordinators at YME are the School liaisons for the PDS. Duties include facilitating the learning of those involved in the partnership and the pre-internship course 1001-459, and coordinating activities of the PDS.


  • In the two elementary schools a year long internship program for senior pre-service teachers gives in-depth experiences in development as professionals under mentor teachers. Mentor teachers will take or have taken a two semester credit course on mentoring or take training and make a three year commitment to the position. The Education Department courses are integrated on-site and applied in YME classrooms.
  • Joint action research projects among SMSU faculty, YME faculty, and pre-service teachers or interns will be developed. Participants will take or have taken a two semester credit course or receive training on action research methodology. A purpose of the projects is to support standards and research-based teaching and learning ("quality practices").
  • Formal assessment of the PDS Goals will guide the direction of the action plan and activities within the projects.

Partner Liaisons

Eileen VanWie, Professor of Education

Southwest Minnesota State University

Education Department

1501 State St.

Marshall, Minnesota 56258


Joey Page, Elementary Principal

YME School District

Clarkfield, MN 56223


Last Modified: 3/22/17 3:52 PM