News & Events

University Liaisons Enrich Partnerships and Increase Teacher Candidate Success

The Valley Partnership has been working non-stop to develop ways of enriching student teaching and practicum experiences for our teacher candidates.  The idea of placing a university liaison in K-12 partner schools was recently piloted by Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM).

The university liaison is assigned to one partner school.  Liaisons spend tinme building relationships with teachers and staff within that school.  They provide orientation for cooperating teachers for each embedded field experience and student teaching assignment.  When a cooperating teacher has a question or concern, the liaison is there to assist.

In addition to supporting cooperating teachers, liaisons serve as supervisors for teacher candidates in field experiences and student teaching.  Since they are often on-site, additional encouragement and support is available to candidates on a regular basis.

The feedback MSUM has received about liaisons has been enthusiastically positive.  School principals and cooperating teachers appreciate the additional and timely support given them.  They also feel they have a stronger connection to the university.  Most importantly, teachers are finding that their students are benefitting from the increased knowledge and professionalism of MSUM teacher candidates.

The benefits for teacher candidates are many.  Since implementation of the liaison program, there have been virtually no instances of absenteeism in partner schools.  In addition, dispositional issues are taken care of quickly and do not mushroom into unsolvable dilemmas.  When candidates have questions about assignments for a practicum, the liaison is able to help because he or she has information directly from university instructors.

MSUM has plans for increasing the number of partner schools in which liaisons will be placed.  The university liaison design has proven to be an effective means of building solid relationships with partner schools, supporting both cooperating teachers and teacher candidates, and ensuring that our candidates are making a difference in the achievement of K-12 students.

Published on 2011/08/31

MEETING PARTNERSHIP CHALLENGES: Cross Institutional Teams at the Border

The Valley Partnership uses cross-institutional teams for each of the Teacher Effectiveness Initiative pillars: recruiting, preparation, field experiences, placement/support and assessment to ensure that the partnership is a true collaborative.  We not only face the challenges of working collaboratively with faculties across campus, school districts and teachers, but, also, with effectively (a) partnering across two states, (b) working in three communities and multiple school distsricts, and (c) collaboratively engaging three teacher education programs at universities with different and unique institutional missions and culture. 

Each cross-institutional team includes representatives from all three partner institutions and reports to the eight member core leadership group for the project (two faculty from each institution with two P-12 district representatives).  A project coordinator helps to ensure our work progresses as planned, that records are kept of the progress, and that information is shared with the many participants.

Initially, partner representatives met as a large group to design the project framework.  However, one large group could not effectively carry out the many detailed tasks that were needed to achieve the broad project goals.  It became necessary to form smaller, more focused work groups to implement the design.  Further, if teams at each institution worked on reform in their own programs, it was not easy to see how the groups were working together to achieve project goals across the partnership.  Program changes at each institution needed to be put into practice while still ensuring that the activities were coordinated across the partnership.

There is still much to do.  "This is a process," as Bush Foundation President Peter Hutchinson stated during our recent milestone meeting.  Peter also stressed the importance of stopping for a moment to recognize accomplishments.  The cross-institutional teams have a variety of products resulting from initial collaborations: a recruitment video, a partnership marketing plan, student teaching evaluations, and a co-teaching pilot program.

Most important, a sense of camaraderie and collegiality has grown across the Valley Partnership.  What began as three very different and competing institutions across two states is now a partnership with a common purpose.

Published on 2011/08/31

Bush Foundation Launches Ad Campaign

Watch for commercials on Glee and American Idol!

In the next decade, almost half of the teachers in the upper Midwest will leaving teaching or retire.  That includes many of the teacher in Eastern North Dakota and Western Minnesota.  But there will be no shortage of students in need of great teachers.  With research showing that a high quality teacher is one of the most important in-school factors in determining a student’s success, it is vital that we are ready to fill that gap with new, highly effective teachers.

Valley Partnership is part of the Network for Excellence in Teaching (NExT), an exciting partnership between Minnesota State University Moorhead, North Dakota State University and Valley City State University and 13 other college and university partnerships across Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.  As part of NExT, we are currently transforming the way our teacher-preparation programs recruit, train, place and support tomorrow’s teachers.  The Bush Foundation has invested over $40 million to make these changes possible as part of its goal to increase student achievement and eliminate desparities among diverse student groups.

During May 2011, this effort is taking a big step forward with the launch of a new ad campaign aimed at attracting the students with the highest potential to the teaching potential.  These ads offer a poignant reminder of the profound impact of teachers, and will hopefully inspire many incredible young people to consider teaching as their career choice.

You are invited to visit to see the work that is being done.  Our new television ads are available there along with much more information about the NExT Initiative.  Then log on to the Valley Partnership website at to see what is happening locally and help us spread the word and remind our communities about the importance of our teachers!

Published on 2011/05/16

BisonTV News Clip: Bush Foundation awards grant to MSUM, NDSU and VCSU

Bush Foundation awarded a grant to Minnesota State University Moorhead, North Dakota State University and Valley City State University.
Bison TV-Newscast Clip-2010/09/27

Published on 2011/05/06

KVLY News Clip: Bush Foundation awards grant to MSUM, NDSU and VCSU

$6 Million Grant awarded to Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM), North Dakota State University (NDSU) and Valley City State University (VCSU). The grant funds will be used to help teachers become better teachers by creating more opportunities in the recruitment and training programs for teachers.
Member of the Network for Excellence in Teacher Education.
KVLY-Newscast Clip-2010/09/27

Published on 2011/05/06

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