Accepting the AILACTE's Model of Excellence Award in Las Vegas on Feb. 22 are members of Niagara University's College of Education: Dr. Kathleen McGrath, Dr. Mary Ellen Bardsley, Dr. Chandra Foote, Patti Wrobel, Dr. Sylvia Valentin, and Carol Beebe.

Niagara University’s longstanding partnership with the Niagara Falls City School District has been chosen for the Model of Excellence Award from the Association of Independent Liberal Arts Colleges for Teacher Education.

NU’s College of Education was presented with a plaque commemorating the achievement at the AILACTE Annual Conference, which was held in Las Vegas Feb. 22-23. Additionally, the College of Education will be featured in an upcoming edition of the AILACTE newsletter.

Niagara University’s College of Education and the Niagara Falls City School District maintain a partnership that spans more than 20 years, with a portfolio of programs that include all levels of stakeholders in various school and university settings.

In all programs and grant opportunities, the partners place an emphasis on raising student achievement, giving pre-service candidates clinical experiences that prepare them for inner city settings, training and enhancement for Niagara Falls teachers and staff, and giving Niagara Falls students educational opportunities on NU’s campus.

Since 2007, the College of Education has received $14 million in public and private grants to support student and teacher development. Nearly 65 percent of these funds have been earmarked for collaborative efforts with the Niagara Falls City School District, a high-needs district where nearly 80 percent of students qualify for free and reduced lunch under Federal Title I Guidelines.

Presently, the college and school district are working together on programs in family literacy, STEM, early college and smart scholars, early childhood and professional development.

“I congratulate the faculty and staff in our College of Education, and thank them for their tireless commitment to serving children and early childhood development in Western New York,” stated the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University. “The College of Education’s partnerships with fellow higher education institutions, national and international schools, and local organizations enhance the rigor of NU’s teacher education programs and contribute to the fulfillment of our Catholic and Vincentian mission.”

Per the award criteria, an exceptional AILACTE institution is engaged in substantial P-12 partnerships that are forged on the basis of mutual goals for preparing effective beginning teachers. Partnerships include collaboration within and between institutions. This can mean that departments and faculty members in teacher education work with counterparts in the liberal arts, with teacher education programs in other institutions and/or with P-12 schools. Each partner has structures and resources to support the work of the collaboration. The attitudes and understandings of the partnership design support major goals of an effective teacher education program. The partnerships demonstrate sustainability over time.

“Their vision of partnerships has produced solid academic and value-added programs for all their students, as well as ours, over the last two decades,” wrote Niagara Falls Superintendent of Schools Cynthia Bianco in recommending the College of Education for the award. “Niagara’s College of Education’s commitment to partnerships is a model from which all colleges of education could benefit: unique, engaging and highly regarded.”

Niagara University’s College of Education has developed numerous partnerships over the years with schools across the region through its innovative Institute of Applied Learning. The institute implements activities in partnership with faculty in the College of Education, the College of Arts and Sciences, and local school districts, bringing research-based methodology to the classroom through ongoing, sustainable initiatives.

The mission of the Association of Independent Liberal Arts Colleges for Teacher Education is to focus teacher education on the moral dimensions of schooling and education. Additional information can be found at

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