1. What is the difference between the BYU-Public School Partnership and CITES?
2. What are the purposes of CITES?
3. Do other universities in Utah or across the country partner directly with schools?
4. What kinds of professional development activities occur via CITES?
5. Why is this organization important?
6. How do public school students benefit?
7. How do university students benefit?
8. How can I participate in CITES programs?
9. What is the greatest accomplishment of the Partnership?
10. Are there any resources or materials I can access for more information?
Many people confuse the two and use the terms interchangeably.
The Partnership is a collaboration of five school districts (Alpine, Jordan, Nebo, Provo, and Wasatch), the David O. McKay School of Education at BYU, and arts and science colleges at BYU that prepare secondary teachers. It was organized in 1984. Its Governing Board, which meets eight times a year, is comprised of the superintendents of the five school districts and the dean of the McKay School.
CITES (the Center for the Improvement of Teacher Education and Schooling) is an administrative unit located in the McKay School, organized in 1996. Its role is to support the Partnership and facilitate Parternship initiatives through three divisions: professional development, education support, and research. For example, in the area of professional development, CITES facilitates the Associates Program, Principals Academy, various state endorsements, and a variety of conferences.
- To develop programs, practices, and procedures for (a) teacher candidate preparation, (b) teacher professional development, (c) curriculum development, and (d) research to improve students' experiences and achievement
- To extend the body of knowledge regarding effective educational practices and democratic principles in public education
- To study, research, gather data, evaluate, discuss, and implement best practices, programs, and policies in the field of public education
- To promote cooperation among students, teachers, parents, administrators, researchers, and business and government leaders to provide excellence in public education
- To secure cooperative and efficient action in advancing the common purposes of the members of the Partnership
Many universities and colleges have some type of partnership with schools; however, the depth and breadth of those partnerships vary greatly. For example, the partnership may involve only the placement of a small number of student teachers in a neighboring school or district.
In contrast, the BYU-Public School Partnership includes five school districts that are responsible for nearly 30% of the public school students in Utah.
- Endorsement programs, including reading specialization, gifted/talented, and TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)
- One major region-level conference each year featuring nationally acclaimed presenters: Literacy Promise and Instructional Leadership in the 21st Century alternatting so that each is held every other year
- Arts Express, a yearly state-level conference for teachers, school administrators, arts specialists, and parents interested in arts education in the schools
- Courses and workshops in areas such as mathematics teaching, experiential science, early literacy, children’s literature, ELL studies and experiences, and others
- A year-long Arts Academy for arts specialists and classroom teachers providing instruction and workshops on teaching the arts and integrating the arts with other subject matter in K-6 classrooms
- A Principals Academy, which is a cohort of public school principals who meet throughout the year to study and discuss current issues affecting their work
- Encouragement and support for forming and maintaining effective professional learning communities, including a major grant awarded to support schools that demonstrate dedication and progress
- Varying forms of retreats in which “associates” (including both public school and university teachers and/or administrators) meet regularly to study and discuss current issues relevant to their work
Partnering optimizes the efforts of all contributors, and public education needs committed people from both the university and districts who work together to serve students. These public servants need systems to maximize their work.
Students in the schools have teachers who are up to date with current research-based practices and programs. Teachers also have access to a variety of resources to augment instruction and experiences for students.
University students studying to become teachers, counselors, principals, etc. receive effective instruction in their university classrooms but need field experiences to apply their university studies and qualify for state licensure. Those field settings must be places where the students can build on their university classroom work. Because of partnership collaboration, administrators and mentor teachers in the field settings work directly with the university personnel to provide the best possible experience for the teacher/administrator candidates.
A variety of ways are avaliable, depending on your professional role and on the particular program that interests you. For example, if you are a teacher and desire to work with a student teacher or student intern, you can contact your principal. If you are a principal and would like to participate in the Principals Academy, you can contact your supervisor in the district office.
Perhaps the most striking accomplishment of the Partnership is its longevity. BYU has successfully partnered with Utah school districts for over 27 years. Many education partnerships and other collaborative programs dissolve over time as critical leaders come and go. Our partnership has avoided this problem because each partner's dedication to renewal has been strong enough to ensure that the mission of the Partnership continues beyond a particular leader's time of stewardship.
Since the beginning of the Partnership, superintendents in all the school districts have changed at least three times (a total of 20 superintendents), the McKay School has had five deans, the arts and sciences colleges have experienced numerous changes, and Brigham Young University has had four presidents. A flexible structure and shared goals have allowed the partnership to move seamlessly through these leadership changes. The commitment to maintaining strong relationships among the Partnership districts, the McKay School, and the colleges and departments of the arts and sciences is ongoing.
During our extended involvement, we have learned several valuable lessons. It is not easy to work across organizational boundaries to join in shared governance. Building trust and mutual respect must be ongoing. Partnerships are fragile structures, easily damaged by concerns of time investment or short-term efficiency. Yet the possible achievements and services made available through the Partnership provide benefits that are well worth the outlay.
Providing more than 40 professional development programs that benefit both school and university personnel is no small undertaking, but when partners combine both human and financial resources and share responsibility for implementation, much can be done for the benefit of many. We are proud of the opportunities that our professional development programs provide for all educators, both teacher candidate and practicing teachers. We believe we have done and are continuing to do much to fulfill our goal of simultaneous renewal of both educator preparation and public schooling.
Please contact the CITES office. We are happy to be of service.