Northern Illinois University

Dist 428-NIU Partnership

The Partnership School Concept

Partnerships between universities and local school districts are nothing new – in fact, Northern Illinois University currently has eight such agreements with districts throughout the Chicagoland region.

Drawing on the rich resources of university experts in school administration, curriculum development, special education and technology, local schools are able to expand offerings for students and develop new teaching techniques based on successful partnership experiences. For the university, such partnerships provide real-world clinical practice sites for student teachers and opportunities to develop new approaches in teacher preparation.

The DeKalb/NIU school partnership offers the possibility of a collaboration that extends far beyond anything either partner has been able to accomplish in the past. The proximity of the partnership school to NIU’s main campus permits a level of hands-on involvement that will truly make the facility unique among district schools.

Some examples of that involvement include:

  • Joint development of new school framework “from the ground up”
  • Creation of a new model that builds on existing school/university partnerships and expands those programs in a model K-5 elementary school.
  • All-day kindergarten program, an extended-day (6 a.m. to 6 p.m.) program, and expanded offerings in fine arts and technology
  • A very diverse student body with children at all levels of academic preparedness and achievement

Advantages for students attending the school are many, and district officials hope the partnership will pave the way to make those same advantages available to all districts students in the near future:

  • Expanded individual attention and exposure to innovative educational practices will be among the advantages available to children at the partnership school.
  • District officials hope to create a model that can be replicated elsewhere in the district, drawing on “best practices” developed at the partnership school.
  • Arts and technology integration will be key in the creation of a unique and sustainable identity for the partnership school.

Future plans call for the Partnership School to offer student support services such as:

  • Access to a wide range of NIU resources, including on-site specialists, speech and hearing specialists, and health/wellness programs, as well as use of several NIU facilities.
  • Area social service agencies could be integrated into the partnership school model, with parent education, literacy, tutoring, counseling and health programs among the possibilities for after-school and evening family services.