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School District Five teachers named Professional Development Schools Doctoral Fellows

For Immediate Release – July 22, 2019



School District Five teachers named Professional Development Schools Doctoral Fellows

IRMO – Two Lexington-Richland School District Five teachers have been named Professional Development Schools (PDS) Doctoral Fellows through the University of South Carolina (UofSC) College of Education.


Kat Degar (CrossRoads Intermediate) and Malisa Johnson (Oak Pointe Elementary) were two of four recipients chosen for the doctoral fellowships aimed to support practicing teachers and administrators within the PDS network who are completing the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) program.


There are 23 active PDS sites in five Midlands school districts. In School District Five, there are five PDS partnerships: Dutch Fork High School, Irmo Elementary School, Irmo High School, Irmo Middle School, and Oak Pointe Elementary School.  In addition, Lexington-Richland School District Five is the first and only Professional Development School District (PDS-D) that is part of the network at UofSC.


The goals of this fellowship program are to: enhance the scholarly productivity of the PDS settings, extend collaborative enterprises between the University and PDS partners, and support teacher leadership in using improvement science to address relevant and pressing needs within school settings.


“We think this PDS fellowship provides an avenue to promote classroom teachers getting advanced degrees while at the same time furthering the focus on inquiry in our Professional Development Schools Network,” said Dr. Cindy Van Buren, director of the Professional Development Schools Network.


“I am so excited to have the opportunity to continue my education through the Ed.D. program at UofSC”, said Kat Degar.  “I look forward to learning how to better assist teachers in enhancing classroom instruction through the effective integration of technology.  Technology is an integral part of the School District Five vision and as a PDS-D representative I will have the opportunity to help support that vision.  Through collaboration with teachers and other Digital Integration Specialists we can develop more effective ways to increase student achievement and support learning goals through the use of technology.”


“I'm very excited about the fellowship, not only because it allows me to pursue the Ed.D. program in curriculum and instruction, but also because of how the fellowship highlights the partnership between Oak Pointe Elementary and UofSC,” said Malisa Johnson.  “My dissertation will be the presentation of research around a problem of practice. While I'm only beginning the journey, my current interests are around alignment of professional development and observational feedback. My research serves to not only impact my own professional learning, but can positively impact teaching and learning, and the professional development that surrounds it. I look forward to continuing to learn about best practices and implementing them in my classroom.”


The Professional Development Schools Network has been a key part of the education preparation process at the University of South Carolina for more than 28 years. The University of South Carolina began sponsoring a PDS National Conference in March 2000. That initial event, held in Columbia, S.C., attracted nearly six hundred educators, prompting the university to sponsor annual national conferences and helping to establish the National Association of Professional Development Schools.


“The PDS Fellowships awarded to Kat Degar and Malisa Johnson are great opportunities not only for the teachers but also for the district,” said Tamara Turner, School District Five director of personnel. “Through the fellowships, the teachers will be able to hone their abilities and gain new skills to best impact the educational outcomes of students. The district will certainly benefit from having these educators equipped to use the expertise gained through the fellowship program to stimulate positive changes in our district.”