MSU-Mankato’s PDS Program Builds “Win-Win” Partnership with St. Peter’s Elementary School.

MSU-Mankato’s PDS Program Builds “Win-Win” Partnership with St. Peter’s Elementary School.


Lori Piowlski, Ph.D.  Minnesota State University, Mankato,

K-12 Contact: Darin Doherty, Principal in the St. Peter School District,


The Elementary and Early Education Program (EEC) at Minnesota State University-Mankato began restructuring teacher preparation with partnership development schools (PDS) five years ago.  The restructuring was embedded in three tenets: the cultural proficiency (CP) framework of Randall Lindsey, the cycle of effective instruction demonstrated by the teacher performance assessment (edTPA) as well as the standards of PDS. From the intersections of the PDS, CP and edTPA the student performance is on the rise in P-12 schools that are partnering with MSU/EEC as part of the restructuring. This new model, coined “ The Culture of Care (COC), PDS Field Experience Model” by Dr. Lori Piowlski has impacted both teacher preparation and P-12 student achievement.


The new model resulted in a trust where MSU-Mankato now purposefully places first-year teacher candidates in PDS schools in large groups where they are assigned to classrooms to learn how to plan instruction that reflects the needs and strengths of students, as well as providing time for additional Response to Intervention (RTI) assessments and intervention.  In collaboration with St. Peter Public Schools, this new model supports placements of up to thirty-five teacher candidates in South Elementary School and 20 teacher candidates in North Elementary School with on site supervisory support.  That does not account for the student teachers that also are requested in these two schools.  EEC teacher candidates will complete over 600 field experience hours prior to student teaching, which is far beyond the requirements.


Teachers, principals and the prior superintendent have recognized the impact on K-12 achievement.  Principal Darin Doherty states, “The investment in the partnership is a win – win for everyone involved. This team relationship allows for clear, concise objectives and expectations for the teacher candidates. Letting the teacher candidates know that there is a high level of expectations placed upon them and the fact that they have a strong support system; allows for the teacher candidates to grow into competent teachers. Having the professors on site with immediate feedback for the teacher candidate allows for growth of the teacher candidate which ultimately leads to student growth in our school.”


Prior superintendent, Dr. Olson shared, “During walkthroughs I have seen teacher candidates engaged with students in the hallway, media center, and classrooms. Bringing down the student to teacher down to a 3:1ratio or less. These small groups allow for a high level of student engagement which leads to student learning.”


Mentor teacher, comments, “I love having “extra hands” in the classroom!  Our classroom is able to incorporate more flexible grouping opportunities and more one on one for students.  All levels of learners benefit. Teachers have very high expectations put on the teacher candidates.”


The “COC field experience model has attracted nationwide attention.  Delegates from other universities have visited to learn from this model. Dr. Lori Piowlski has presented the COC model at local, state, national, and international conferences.  The St. Peter Public School recently published: Teacher training program is valuable for both South Elementary and MSU-Mankato

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