Office of Educational

Office of Educational<br>Partnerships

Sweet Home Middle & High Schools

Canisius College and Sweet Home Middle and High Schools are strong partners in a Professional Development School relationship.  Adolescence Education candidates complete field experiences and student teaching placements in both Sweet Home Middle School and Sweet Home High School.  In an integrated environment of professional support, Canisius student teaching candidates and Sweet Home students receive expert mentoring from highly qualified teachers and administrators.  It is through these interactions that student teachers learn the value of collaboration, innovation, and reflection for their teaching practices.

In a collaborative effort between Canisius College and Sweet Home Middle School, a specialized Student Teacher Handbook has been developed for candidates completing their student teaching experience.

Mission Statement

The Canisius College/Sweet Home District Professional School (PDS) partnership is dedicated to fostering social responsibility and intellectual curiosity in students, teacher candidates, and educators.  The partners will work collaboratively to enhance the education experiecnes of all members of the educational community.  The mission of the PDS partnership is to share responsibilities and resources of Canisius College and the Sweet Home District in order to create self-directed, cooperative, and life-long learners among all the shareholders.  We are dedicated to inquiry-based practices and relevant professional development in order to responsibly meet the challenges and opportunities of the future.

Below are Initiatives reflective of the collaboration between Canisius College and Sweet Home Schools.

Sweet Home teachers and staff, as well as the liaison Mr. Heffley, offer PDS seminars and individual mentoring for our teacher candidates on-site at Sweet Home Middle and High School.  Mr. Heffley also maintains an on-site office at SHMS, where he works one-on-one with pre-student and student teachers from the college.

Professional administrators and educators present critical problems that they face in their careers to Canisius candidates. Topics include classroom management, curriculum development, and resources that Sweet Home has to offer.  This creates a rich and authentic experience for Canisius candidates and professionals in the field.

Professional development opportunities are also provided by Michael Baumann, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources.  These presentations deal with resume building and how to prepare for a teaching interview.

A diversity panel was arranged of urban educators from the Buffalo Public Schools who presented on various topics related to the transition of students from urban to suburban educational settings. 

For more information on the diversity panel or Mr. Baumann’s presentation, please contact Peter Heffley,

Canisius professors Dr. Bailey, Dr. Finn, Dr. Ferguson, Dr. Burns, Mr. McLaughlin, and Mr. Heffley often teach on-site education classes at Sweet Home Middle and High School. These classes provide Canisius candidates with authentic experiences by working directly with Sweet Home faculty and students.  Over 10 Sweet Home faculty and administrators have also acted as adjunct professors in the School of Education and the Educational Leadership Program.  The classes include speakers who are committed professionals to the field of education.  Students have the opportunity interact with these professionals, learn about their experiences, and see what a typical school day is like.  Interactive observations follow these classes giving Canisius candidates a realistic insight into adolescent development.

Numerous Canisius faculty, including Dr. Si Mhamed, Mrs. Schwabel, Dr. Bailey, Dr. Finn, and Dr. DiCamillo, have given presentations on-site at Sweet Home Middle and High School to faculty and staff.  These presentations have varied in topic from “The Perception of the Arab World” to “Differentiated Instruction in the Classroom.”

Dr. Marcus Thomeer, of the Institute for Autism Research at Canisius College, will be giving presentations and workshops on strategies for success when dealing with Autistic children.  This is a 2015 PDS Initiative which will be presented to Sweet Home Middle School faculty.

Students from Canisius College are engaged in Service experiences with the Sweet Home Schools through their involvement with an after school Tutoring/Mentoring program at Sweet Home Middle School.  In addition, candidates gain insights from one-to-one contact with students and actively engage in the school community.  This Service as tutors allows teacher candidates to develop, enhance, and practice their craft as educators. 

A Spring 2015 PDS Initiative will be a collaboration between Sweet Home High School students and Canisius education clubs.  Teacher Education students and Sweet Home juniors will jointly participate in an all-day service project at Cradle Beach.  Cradle Beach is a 100+ year old camp for the underserved and for students with profound physical disabilities.

Inquiry research is being conducted by Canisius faculty in collaboration with the Sweet Home Schools.  These studies deal largely with the engagement of students in the educational community.  Topics include Obesity (Finn), IPad use (Ferguson and Finn), New Literacies (Bailey and Van Harken) and the success of the Canisius Mentoring program at Sweet Home Middle School. 

The Canisius’Counseling and Human Service Department engages in a Mentoring Programs with at-risk Sweet Home students.  Canisius candidates gain clinically rich field experiences through working one-on-one with Sweet Home Middle School students to help them make the transition from urban to suburban school settings.

Several of these research projects have been presented at educational conferences in Hawaii and Louisiana.

In addition, Sweet Home has collaborated with Canisius College on numerous exciting projects.  Students in an honors class at Sweet Home High have been able to participate in inquiry research through teaming up with professors at Canisius College.  Through this research Sweet Home students have gained invaluable experience working in a college-level environment, using library resources to conduct research, and collaborating with college faculty who share their professional insights.  These findings are presented to the public at Ignatian Scholarship Day held at Canisius.

What Sweet Home Teacher Candidates are Saying!

The PDS partnership between Canisius and Sweet Home was an enormous part of my experience at Canisius. I served as a research assistant to Dr. Nancy Bailey during a graduate research class conducted on site at Sweet Home Middle School. The opportunity to conduct research right in classrooms was a real privilege. Through this experience I worked with several faculty members and was even introduced to the administration. I also built important relationships during both my pre-student teaching at the middle school and my student teaching at the high school. Mr. Heffley, our PDS liaison, met with the small group of Canisius student teachers at Sweet Home every week during our student teaching to encourage, advise, and field any concerns we might have. He also recruited me for a very valuable tutoring opportunity in the middle school. Because of the relationships I was able to build out of the PDS partnership, I actually landed a long-term substitute position right out of college. I couldn't be more thrilled to be working in a district that I already know and love!

- Elizabeth Van Harken '13

For more information, please contact:

Peter J. Heffley
Sweet Home School District Liaison
Coordinating Supervisor of Student Teachers