We are all here for the same reason. Universities are trying to prepare people for life, for community life, for school life, for whatever area that they’re going into, and we know that K–12 schools are preparing children as well. We realized that at the university level, because there’s so much research going on, there’s an opportunity for universities to help the PK–12 and other public ed. institutions, to provide places for them to work on research, and to work together. There’s a mutual interest. We’re all there for the same reasons: to build leaders, and to give young people the best education we can.

We’ve realized that it’s so important for us to be a community working together for the good of all. And the initiative at the professional development school has become a very important vehicle for making this change happen. Some of the shared goals include improving student learning, and we want to strengthen our teacher education at the higher ed. level. I think sometimes, unfortunately or fortunately, people who are teaching teacher education at the higher ed. level haven’t been in the schools for a long time. Some of them are career higher ed. people, and so they don’t always understand some of the situations and challenges that are going on. Having that opportunity to work together is extremely important.

Those of you in the PK–12 area, you know that there are a lot of things that have changed drastically in the last few years. I know from working with student teachers and being in the schools all the time, it’s a very stressful time right now. Change is difficult. But this is something that we have to do, and working together makes it a little bit easier.

Nancy Varian is the director of the Center for Professional Development at Malone University, where she is also an assistant professor of education. Listen to the podcast to hear more about forming partnerships that matter in postsecondary education.