Marcy Keifer Kennedy is the director of the Center for Professional Development School (PDS) Partnerships in The Patton College of Education. Keifer Kennedy oversees the operations of 11 active PDS partnerships, each with a unique structure and organization in local school districts. The central purpose of the Center is to foster and support outreach activities that connect the College with regional schools and to partner together to positively impact P-12 student learning and teacher preparation. Keifer Kennedy is a former president of the National Association for Professional Development Schools.
“Our center has been very successful in the last couple years with national recognition,” says Keifer Kennedy. In 2014 the Center and Athens City Schools won a prestigious national award recognizing innovative partnerships and professional development. At the National Association for Professional Development Schools (NAPDS) national conference in Las Vegas, NAPDS presented The Patton College of Education and Athens City Schools with the Award for Exemplary Professional Development School Achievement. In 2015 the Center was awarded the Spirit of the PDS Award by the Professional Development Schools National Conference. The prestigious national award recognizes “leadership in, and significant contributions to, the building and sustaining of PDSs and consistent support for, and participation in, the annual NAPDS Conference.”
“All PDS programming that is done in collaboration with our local school districts is intentional and planned to meet the needs of the individual school and the learners in that school,” says Keifer Kennedy. “In the Center for PDS Partnership, schools and faculty have multiple opportunities to engage in reflective dialog during the academic year in various ways.”
She said all involved in these school partnerships benefit from the relationship between the University and the schools. Mentor teachers in the public schools benefit from graduate credit waivers, professional development activities, synergy with teacher candidates, extra hands and additional support in the classroom. The Center for PDS partnerships also helps schools access grant funding through Ohio University or other sources. Faculty benefit from open access to schools, ensuring ease of conversation with teachers to help them stay current on trends and patterns in the public schools. Teacher candidates gain valuable skills and experience in the classroom teaching, assessing and organizing programs like family enrichment activities. They also receive professional development around issues like classroom management, assessment, and working with children who live in poverty.
“At national conferences we really focus on the work of PDS in the rural context,” Keifer Kennedy says. “We partner with some schools where the entire district is on one campus.” Just as each partnership is unique, so too is each school and its priorities. Within the local region, PDS partnerships focus on literacy intervention, democratic education, community building and more.
Keifer Kennedy joined the Patton College of Education in 1999 and previously worked as an early intervention specialist.