Skip to main content

Professional Development Schools

What does PDS mean?

The PDS program offers senior education students at Illinois State University a year-long experience in a public school that replaces the 16-week student-teaching semester. On-site college classes and mentoring are important elements of the PDS internship.

Benefits of the PDS program

  • Employment statistics for PDS grads are positive and they have a competitive edge in Illinois.
  • Research shows that PDS grads are more likely to stay in education as a career.
  • Interns take classes on-site in the school district and directly apply their knowledge in the classrooms.
  • The program provides mock job interviews and mentors give good advice about job searches.
  • Full-year interview opportunities with district/building administration.
  • Interns have more “complete takeover” time in the classroom than other types of student teaching.
  • Interns have already experienced a full year of teaching by the time they graduate.
  • PDS interns build educational networks with people who will be professional peers for years down the road.
  • Interns can see right away how what they learned in their college classes works with students.
  • The PDS program allows time for the intern to integrate into the school environment - students, teachers, staff, parents, and community connections.
  • PDS student teaching programs are becoming a national trend in teacher education preparation.

PDS Options by Major

Early Childhood Education

Elementary Education

Elementary Bilingual/Bicultural Education

Middle Level Education

Secondary Education

Secondary PDS Contacts:

Gary Higham - Secondary PDS Coordinator
Dr. Jay Percell - Unit 5 PDS Professor

Take a look at the Secondary PDS Handbook


  • Will a full-year internship make me a better teacher?
Our graduates tell us that they wouldn’t be the kind of teachers they are today if it weren’t for going through this program. Nothing compares to being there when school starts and seeing it through to the end of the year. "A full year gives us more time to expand on and explore what the University taught us," Krista Boston ’06, PDS intern, adds. "By the second semester, we could focus on academics rather than learning to manage the classroom."
  • Is mentoring an important part of the PDS program?
“As a new teacher I felt very prepared, especially with classroom management, which was one of the big things I learned last year...I still talk with my former mentor teacher on a daily basis,” says Michelle Daniels ’05, fifth-grade teacher, former PDS intern. When you are in the PDS program, you will have people close to you that you can count on. PDS interns say it really helps that they have so much help from their Illinois State University teachers along the way. One of the biggest advantages of participating in the PDS program is that you get to try things out in the classroom as you are learning about them.
  • Does the PDS internship help education graduates get good jobs?
“It was very easy to find a job,” says Nicole Socha ’06, bilingual teacher, former PDS intern in the district that hired her. When you interview for your first job in a school, you are not sure what to expect. Our PDS interns feel like they have already been through their first year of teaching. Principal Jennifer Gill of Lindsay Elementary School in Springfield remarks, “They know the school year from day one to the end.” “The program really prepared us for job interviews in every way,” says Bennett Nelson ’06, seventh-grade teacher, former PDS intern in the district that hired him.
  • How do PDS graduates feel about their internship experience after they have been teaching for several years?
“I have the PDS program to thank for the great start I have had to my teaching career,” says Amy Lydic, who recently completed her sixth year of teaching kindergarten and third grade in the same district where she was an intern. The time you spend as a PDS intern will be well worth it. Our PDS graduates tell us that they are better off two or three years down the line because of the confidence they gained by being in the classroom for a full year.
  • What do students say about the PDS experience after they have completed it?
“The PDS internship went beyond my expectations. You live the life of a teacher all year, going to conferences, making lesson plans each day, attending institute days, and staying until 8 o’clock at night occasionally getting everything in. It lets you know what it’s really going to be like as a teacher. Teaching is not a nine-to-five job, and everyone should realize that long before he or she becomes a teacher,” says Pete Ower ’06, seventh-grade teacher, former PDS intern. Most interns would say that the PDS program was the best experience of their lives. Interns are not only preparing for their career but also building connections with friends and mentors that will last a lifetime.