Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Louann Bierlein Palmer

Second Advisor

Dr. Denny McCrumb

Third Advisor

Dr. Mark Rainey


School-university partnerships, school improvement, professional learning communities, cohorts, collaboration


This research is a qualitative, reflective case study regarding a cohort in the form of a district-university partnership between the Oak Park Schools in Oak Park, Michigan and the College of Education at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The initiators of the program envisioned a more successful urban school district by offering training beyond the traditional professional development to district teachers with an incentive of a Master’s Degree. The criteria of this particular initiative mandated that the program be field-based where all courses met in district buildings and be non-traditional, where all content was focused on the needs of the district while encapsulated within university requirements.

The narratives and findings of this study unveil some of the processes of its creation, design, implementation, and impacts it had on its participants during the cohort and 12 years after. The analysis of the data reveals that the success of the program is directly related to its evolution as a professional learning community by its qualities and characteristics.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access