Hamline News

April 27, 2012

Collaborating for Change: How an Urban Elementary School and University Support and Sustain School and Community Partnerships

Tessa Mortenson, Advisor: Letitia Basford

Twenty years ago this year, Hamline University and Hancock Elementary School formed a collaboration that became the first university-elementary partnership of its kind in the nation. The Collaboration continues to strive towards an integrated campus that fosters a reciprocal relationship and practices the philosophy: College Begins in Kindergarten. The Collaboration is unique for the interdisciplinary scope of programs, featuring academic pairings between Hancock grade levels and University departments/schools, Hand in Hand mentoring, joint-service learning projects, as well as collaborative mini-grants that offer financial support for projects between Hamline and Hancock instructors. In my review of the existing research that surrounds university-K-12 collaborations, I found that most school-university partnerships have focused only on a Professional Development School model, in which the School of Education partners with a K-12 public school in order to bolster teacher-preparation programs and/or increase college-readiness in public school students. The need for a reciprocal and dynamic partnership has led some institutions to develop more comprehensive collaborative models, yet research on these multi-faceted public school-university collaborations is very limited. My research attempts to fill this gap by providing a case study of the Hancock-Hamline Collaboration through analyzing its evolutionary history, scope of programs, and its future shift into a stronger community-based model along with identifying its strengths and weaknesses, based on extensive interviews, past documentation and analysis. Furthermore, from a thorough literature review, this research also assembles a set of best practices for university-K-12 partnerships, nationwide, to utilize as a resource and presents five additional case studies of exemplary K-18 collaborations found in the nation.