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Officials Shadow Higher Education Partnership, Discuss Innovation

A unique program that partners University of Louisville student-teachers with a Jefferson County Public Schools classroom may soon see preliminary results for the past five years’ work.That was the focus of a day-long event Tuesday where nearly 50 educators were invited to discuss innovation in education at Atkinson Academy elementary school in Louisville's Portland neighborhood.Education commissioner Terry Holliday, JCPS Superintendent Donna Hargens and Mayor Greg Fischer were among those appearing at Atkinson Tuesday morning. They were invited by Kentucky Leads the Nation--which calls itself a non-partisan education think-tank.In the morning a group of 30 educators and professionals listened as some students began their day in the gym, shouting at the top of their lungs what year they expected to graduate college. Principal Stephanie Nutter when down the line, grades five through kindergarten and finally ending with a small group of University of Louisville students standing in the back.For the past five years U of L has partnered with Atkinson to provide additional resources and support right in the school. The university students are in Atkinson throughout the year to learn how to teach, alongside educators who have been developed to lead the next generation of teachers.“At the same time it allows my master teachers to refine their practices because they know they’re teacher the future generations," said Nutter.The program has been in development for nearly eight years, but starting five years ago there was only one classroom being used by student-teachers and their mentors. Now the program at Atkinson has been expanded to eight classrooms.A few other schools have similar components of the partnership, but not nearly as complete as Atkinson, said Blake Haselton, U of L’s interim dean of education.Here, several educators, social workers, even nurses rotate in to provide the school with additional support, like a family resource center. The program itself is funded in several pieces, from individual fellowships to larger grants that support the educators working with U of L students.The university would like to expand the idea in more middle schools, said Haselton, and in two years it may consider moving into high schools.“The progress that has been made at this school we think has been significant. They’re not where they need to be yet, but they’re certainly moving in the right direction," he said.Preliminary results from the program’s first graduating class are expected later this year.Commissioner Holliday and other state and local officials met for two hours at Atkinson to further discuss innovation in education in the commonwealth.

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