Q&A with clinical instructor and PDS coordinator, Laura Alpaugh
Laura Alpaugh is a clinical instructor and professional development schools (PDS) coordinator in Loyola’s School of Education Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program. We sat down with Laura to learn about the PDS partnership at Loyola and how it benefits students.
What is your background?
I grew up in Baltimore and attended Baltimore County public schools. I am proud to say that I have lived in Baltimore my whole life and grew up six miles from Loyola’s Evergreen campus. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Villa Julie College (Stevenson University) and a Master of Arts in Teaching in Elementary Education and Early Childhood Education from Notre Dame of Maryland University. After I pursued my master’s in teaching, I taught for nine years in Harford County Public Schools. I had the opportunity to work with teacher candidates as a mentor teacher and site coordinator for six years prior to beginning my position at Loyola University Maryland. I have always had a passion for working with teacher candidates and as site coordinator for my school because I get to know the candidates on a professional and personal level. My desire to support new teachers led me to take a position with Loyola’s School of Education. I have completed six years as PDS clinical faculty with Loyola and have enjoyed working with teacher candidates and observing their growth during and after our teacher preparation program.
What are professional development schools?
Professional development schools are collaborative arrangements between the School of Education and local public and non-public schools. These sites provide opportunities for students to receive mentoring from experienced teachers and supervision from Loyola faculty. I work with the Overlea High School partnership in Baltimore County and the Lakeland Elementary/Middle School partnership in Baltimore City.
What is your role as the PDS coordinator?
As a PDS coordinator, I supervise teacher candidates in PDS and work with all stakeholders to support and strengthen the partnership between Loyola and the PDS. There is so much that goes into a PDS partnership with Loyola. The school and University work together to support mentor teacher training, identify and provide resources to address the needs of the schools, and create activities and experiences for teacher candidates to immerse themselves in the school community.
How do students of the MAT program benefit from completing their internship at a PDS?
Students of the MAT program benefit from completing their internship at a PDS because they are placed with highly qualified mentors who are trained by Loyola faculty and know the program well. As a PDS coordinator, it is my responsibility to provide regular professional development to mentor teachers and support them with co-teaching, use effective coaching skills, and provide effective feedback to support growth. Our PDS sites are so welcoming to Loyola teacher candidates and teacher candidates are really treated as new members of the faculty during their internships. Professional development school coordinators are also present in their schools, working side-by-side with teacher candidates throughout the week. MAT students meet with their cohort groups during seminars held at the school-site, and with their Loyola PDS coordinator to discuss instruction.
What do you like about working at Loyola?
My favorite part about working at Loyola is getting to know the students as individuals. I really enjoy seeing them enter our program and observing their growth from day one of the internship through graduation from the MAT program. I also really love staying in touch with former students as they begin their first year of teaching. I have had the pleasure of observing and supporting Loyola MAT alumni teaching in local Maryland schools, as well as in our Loyola partnered schools (PDS sites).
What’s different about the MAT program at Loyola?
Loyola’s faculty are completely invested in the success of all students. I believe that our program provides a personalized connection and individualized care of each student. This is part of our conceptual framework with cura personalis. We take care of the whole person to another level. We look to get to know our students, identify strengths and needs, and work with each student to create a plan for success. We also designed a wellness program this year, specifically for our MAT students to encourage use of self-care strategies, create a school/home balance, and develop skills to help them thrive during our program and after graduation.
What are your future goals and aspirations in the education field?
My current goal is to develop intentional programs and support systems centered around teacher induction. Teacher retention is a challenge throughout our country and teacher burn-out is a real issue. I do believe that our candidates are fully prepared to enter the profession following our program, however, they need support systems. Teachers will benefit from intentional support throughout their first years of teaching, with their students benefitting as well.
To learn more about the Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) program and the School of Education’s professional development schools partnership, visit our website.