Baylor School of Education and Midway ISD Announce Two New Professional Development Schools

  • Midway HS
    Midway ISD photo by Bridget Bussell Sophomores Kyra Jackson (far left) and Briana Zimmerman (far right) work with Baylor Teaching Candidate Bethany Gilmore in biology class. (Midway Independent School District)
  • PDS
April 10, 2014

Follow us on Twitter:@BaylorUMediaCom

Contact: Tonya B. Lewis, (254) 710-4656

WACO, Texas (April 10, 2014) — Baylor University School of Education announced the establishment of two new Professional Development Schools (PDS) in partnership with Midway ISD at Midway Middle School and Spring Valley Elementary, beginning fall 2014.

Professional Development Schools are innovative institutions formed through partnerships between university professional education programs and preK-12 schools. Their mission is professional preparation of candidates, school and faculty development, inquiry directed at the improvement of practice and enhanced student learning. Baylor students (teacher candidates) will work with mentor teachers from Midway schools in the classroom to bring together experience and innovation for the preparation of new teachers and the improvement of education for children.

The School of Education previously had seven PDS campuses: Bell’s Hill, Hillcrest PDS, Mountainview, and Parkdale at the elementary level in Waco ISD; Caesar Chavez Middle School and University High School, also in Waco ISD; and Midway High School. The addition of Midway Middle School and Spring Valley Elementary brings the total to nine, with six schools in Waco ISD and three in Midway ISD.

Through the PDS partnerships, a university liaison, who is a Baylor School of Education faculty member, and a jointly employed site coordinator work with Baylor teacher candidates on site. In collaboration with the school principal and school faculty, they work together to advance the education of children at participating Professional Development Schools.

Baylor teacher candidates begin their field work in area schools during the freshman year and spend significant and progressively more time on school campuses. During the junior year, teacher candidates serve in schools every day as teaching associates, and as seniors, they are in schools full-time on a daily basis to observe, assist, practice, and teach. This clinical approach prepares teachers with almost two full years of experience in classrooms—often in a co-teach situation with the classroom mentor—before graduation and job placement.

Mentor teachers and clinical instructors, who are experienced classroom teachers, benefit from teacher candidates’ presence in the classroom and learn new teaching techniques and technology from their interns. Students in the district benefit from all parts of the partnerships—having more time one-on-one with instructors, experiencing different teaching styles, and learning from new, creative lessons.

“We are pleased to expand our partnership with two new Professional Development Schools in Midway ISD. This development provides our teacher candidates an opportunity to experience a broader set of teaching environments and brings together two school districts in the Waco area formally committed to preparing future teachers,” said Jon Engelhardt, Ph.D., dean of the Baylor School of Education.

Engelhardt said that providing additional placements for Baylor teacher candidates at the middle school and elementary levels was important in increasing Baylor’s capacity to prepare teachers, because the certification categories for teachers in the State of Texas now require teacher candidates to gain experience in a wider range of grade levels that may be housed on different school campuses.

“This is a great opportunity to expand our partnership with Baylor School of Education,” said Brent Merritt, Ph.D., Midway ISD Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction. “As educators, we believe it is our responsibility to be well-prepared for our students, and also prepare the next generation of teachers. In turn, we learn from interns new innovative ideas.”

“Another benefit for Midway is getting to know interns very well to be able to evaluate skills and determine if we want to hire them upon graduation. At Spring Valley alone, more than 10 teachers came through the Baylor student teaching internship program,” Merritt said.

Midway Middle School currently has 1,222 students in seventh and eighth grades, and 68 teachers. Spring Valley Elementary has 457 students in grades K-4 and 26 teachers. Both campuses will host approximately 20-35 Baylor junior and senior education majors.

“It’s a blessing just to be considered and selected to become a PDS school,” said Spring Valley Principal Jay Fischer. “Our campus staff understands the impact we will make on future educators, and more importantly, the students they will serve.”

Engelhardt said preparation will begin immediately for placing Baylor School of Education students in these new PDS campuses.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having “high research activity” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The University provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.


Founded in 1919, the Baylor School of Education (SOE) prepares leaders through four departments in two broad program areas, Professional/Teacher Education and Health Education. Leadership preparation begins in undergraduate programs, continues through master’s level work, and culminates in both Ed.D. and Ph.D. programs. The SOE impacts the world as students participate in faculty-guided fieldwork, service learning, and community-focused research in local and global contexts. The school shapes the future by mentoring the whole person, developing an understanding of theory and practice, and encouraging responsiveness to one’s calling.

Looking for more news from Baylor University?