BYU celebrates 30-year partnership with public schools

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This education partnership brings BYU and five public school districts in three counties in north-central Utah (Alpine, Jordan, Nebo, Provo and Wasatch). The partnership comprises more than 200 public schools, 173,00 students and 8,000 teachers. (The Wheatley Institution)

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the BYU-Public School partnership.

BYU organized two conferences as part of the celebration. The first was held Sept. 19 in the Varsity Theatre inside the Wilkinson Student Center.

The conference was titled “Civic Virtue, Civic Life” and featured Matthew Holland, former BYU professor of political science and current Utah Valley University president.

The second conference, titled “Educating Citizens for a Life of Virtue and Purpose,” was held Oct. 30 in the auditorium in the Harold B. Lee Library.

Presenters at the conference included William Damon, professor of education at Stanford University; David Mathews, former president of the University of Alabama; and Stacie Molnar-Main, research deputy with the Kettering Foundation.

Paul Wangemann, associate director of Communications and Education at BYU, is pleased with the longevity and stability of the partnership. Wangemann views BYU’s association with public schools as essential for the success of both organizations.

Wangemann said better teachers means better schools and better schools means better teaching experiences for university students about to enter the field.

“If we want to improve education we have to look at the whole system,” Wangemann said.

John Patten, assistant to the superintendent of Alpine School District, agreed with Wangemann. Patten believes the true benefit to the BYU-Public School partnership is the notion he refers to as “simultaneous renewal.”

“Both organizations are renewed, and they are improved through the partnership, and the one really needs the good work of the other in order to succeed in their unique mission,” Patten said.

Patten said in order to maintain really good schools you need really good partnering universities who have quality teacher education programs, and BYU offers that to Alpine School District.

BYU’s partnership extends to five school districts in Utah that represent about one-third of Utah’s school children. Participating in the partnership are the Nebo, Alpine, Wasatch, Jordan and Provo school districts. Together they employ more than 7,000 teachers.

BYU graduates about 800 teachers annually and greatly benefits from the alliance.

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