The National Association for Professional Development Schools (NAPDS) has announced that four school-university partnerships will be honored for “Exemplary PDS Achievement” at the organization’s upcoming annual conference in Jacksonville, FL.  Partnerships involving SUNY Buffalo State, Baylor University, Ohio University and Penn State were selected for the 2018 awards, to be presented on March 17.  The coveted Exemplary PDS Achievement Award is given to a small number of school-university partnerships each year whose work creates and sustains genuine collaborative relationships between P-12 schools and higher education.  In addition, NAPDS has chosen Dr. Mary Elizabeth Higgins as winner of the 2018 Outstanding Dissertation Award.

Its Exemplary PDS Achievement award, in collaboration with the Waco Independent School District, is Baylor University’s second, having previously been recognized for its partnership with Midway ISD.  In announcing the award, the Baylor-Waco ISD partnership was cited for its mutually beneficial 25-year collaboration and its leadership in PDS work nationally.

Penn State’s collaboration with the State College Area Schools is also receiving its second recognition for Exemplary PDS Achievement.  The Awards Committee cited the partnership for its 20-year anniversary and its commitment to a “culture of inquiry” as well as its leadership in the PDS movement nationally.

Ohio University is also being honored for a second time, having received the Exemplary Achievement Award in 2014 for its work the Athens City Schools.  In 2018, its collaboration with the Federal Hocking Local Schools, known as the “Creating Active and Reflective Educators” (C.A.R.E.) partnership,  was cited for its two-decades long “culture of collaboration and shared accountability” as well as its leadership in the PDS movement nationally.

2018’s fourth honoree is SUNY Buffalo State, also a two-time winner of the Exemplary PDS Achievement Award, having been honored previously in 2011.  The SUNY Buffalo State Consortium was cited for its exceptional international outreach and long-standing relationships with 31 Western New York school districts.

Dr. Higgins, currently on the faculty at the University of Colorado, earned her PhD in 2017 from Penn State University with a dissertation entitled The Influence of Practitioner Research on Teacher Candidates’ Beliefs.  In announcing the award, Dr. Higgins’ work was cited for helping the local school community, as well as the larger PDS-teacher education field, to better understand the influence of inquiry on pre-service teacher development.

NAPDS is the pre-eminent national organization supporting and advancing school-university collaboration. The vision of the Association is to serve as an advocate for the educational community in promoting the continuous development of PreK-12/higher education/community relationships.  NAPDS sponsors two publications, the PDS Partners and School-University Partnerships, a refereed journal for scholarly research.  The NAPDS annual conference typically draws 800-1000 educators from the U.S. and several foreign countries.


For additional information, contact Keith Conners, NAPDS Awards Committee Chair, at 410-430-8794 or by email at