Pre-Service Teacher Education
Pre-Service Teacher Education and the
Southern Maine Partnership
Lynne Miller and David Ruff
The University of Southern Maine, like many comprehensive regional
universities, has its roots in the normal school movement. It
was chartered in 1878 as the Western Maine Normal School. Even
though the university grew and diversified its offerings, it was
still known regionally as the place where undergraduates could
prepare to enter teaching. All of this changed in 1989 when the
College of Education voted to disband its undergraduate teacher
education programs. The little known story behind this dramatic
shift is that in the previous year, eight Southern Maine Partnership
member superintendents had drafted a letter to the Dean of the
College calling for a major overhaul of its teacher education
programs. In a follow-up meeting, the superintendents voiced concerns
about the quality of the programs and their disconnect from the
practice of schools. They stated that, if given the choice, they
would rather hire students prepared elsewhere and would consider
USM graduates more suited for positions as technical assistants
than as full time classroom teachers.
The University President at the time had a deep commitment to
the liberal arts and some disdain for professional education.
When the Dean of the College approached her with the idea of dismantling
undergraduate teacher education and replacing it with a post-baccalaureate
program that admitted only liberal arts graduates, she embraced
the idea. In a pivotal speech to the College faculty, the President
offered resources for the new program and a promise of support.
A faculty vote affirmed the proposal to suspend all undergraduate
teacher education programs and to move to a new graduate model.
The Director of the Southern Maine Partnership was asked to lead
the development of the new program and to serve as its initial
A pilot of the new program began in the fall of 1990. It admitted
fourteen students to a 30 credit hour graduate program leading
to certification as a middle school teacher. The new program,
as yet untitled, was developed in collaboration with Wells Junior
High School, a Southern Maine Partnership school with whom a member
of the teacher education faculty had existing ties. After only
six months of planning, the pilot program began. It was structured
around a set of common core principles that still influence the
university's teacher education programs. These core principles
are: school-university collaboration in program planning and administration,
collaborative admissions processes, a cohort group of interns
placed for a full year in a partner school, an adherence to the
school— rather than university—calendar, integration
of theory and practice, the valuing of teacher voice, site-based
courses that are collaboratively planned and taught, intensive
supervision, and reflective practice (Miller and Silvernail, 1994).
These principles were influenced by the work of the Goodlad network
as well as the emerging movement toward professional development
The pilot program formed the basis for what was later called
the Extended Teacher Education Program (ETEP), which has been
widely recognized as an exemplary graduate level teacher education
program (Darling-Hammond, Ed, 2000). Some years later, ETEP became
the model for a new undergraduate teacher education program at
the university, Teachers for Elementary and Middle Schools (TEAMS).
The Southern Maine Partnership and pre-service education at the
university continue their collaboration as new needs arise and
new programs develop.
Miller, L. & Silvernail, D. (1994).
Wells Junior High School: Evolution of a professional development
school. In. L. Darling-Hammond (Ed) Professional development schools:
Schools for a developing profession, 28-49. New York: Teachers