Professional Development Center

Fall 2019 Courses

The Professional Development Center (PDC) is the inservice agent of the School of Education and Human Development (SEHD) of the University of Southern Maine. Its mission is to provide sustained, high-quality professional development that enables K-12 educators and human resource professionals to continue learning throughout their careers.

Portland campus fall welcome

Most of the courses below are offered as part of our cohort plans (although usually open to any interested students as space allows). Contact us today to design a cohort for your district and:

  • work alongside your district / school colleagues toward a certificate or higher degree 
  • take courses by USM instructors at your own school sites 
  • tailor your USM experience to what the students in YOUR district need


PDS 526 Exploration, Principles, and Ethics of Animal Assisted Interventions and Anthrozoology

This course will provide an overview of Animal Assisted Interventions (AAI). Topics include history, theories, research, terminology, safety and ethics, and the practice and differentiation between several forms of AAI. Emphasis will be placed on the importance of the human-animal bond as part of AAI for clients and practitioners. This course also focuses on the role of animals in human lives. This course provides the necessary foundation for understanding animal assisted activities and therapies in improving the lives of humans. Students will gain an understanding of the various roles animals play in counseling and education, and the clear legal and ethical boundaries and differentiation between educational and mental health practitioners of AAI.

ONLINE; Clare Thomas-Pino, instructor

Course flyer (PDF)

Registration form (PDF)


Cohort Courses

EDU 530 Proficiency-Based Learning: Planning & Assessment II

Proficiency-Based Planning and Assessment is set up as a two-semester course, designed for the practicing teacher.  It begins with an exploration of current research-based, proficiency-driven practices in the field as a means for enrolled teachers to examine their own classroom practices. Participants will consider the defining features of proficiency including, but not limited to, the distinction between habits of work and academic achievement, using backwards design to develop curriculum and assessment tools rooted in district standards, and developing daily practices that intentionally encourage students to take responsibility for their learning.

Class notes: Class is meeting in Cape Elizabeth (email the PDC for permission to attend)

EDU 562 Linguistic and Cultural Diversity in the Classroom

This course examines the nature of language and cultural differences among learners of various ethnic and racial backgrounds. The exploration of diversity provides opportunities for participants to develop a personal awareness of the role of cultural conditioning in classroom encounters; to reflect on and to confront personal biases as they relate to teaching; to acquire the skills and resources for an ethno-relative approach to delivering instruction; and to make language- and topic-related choices compatible with learner differences.

Class notes: Class is meeting in Oxford Hills (email the PDC for permission to attend)


EDU 603 Analysis of Teaching and Assessment

This course provides an opportunity to view teaching from the perspective of selected conceptual frameworks and research findings in the theory and practice of teaching and assessment. Analysis of individual teaching behavior and classroom assessment is an important aspect of this course.

Class notes: Class is for Leaders for Tomorrow's Schools cohort students and meets in Scarborough (email the PDC for permission to attend)

EDU 670 Introduction to Educational Leadership

This course is designed to be the first course taken in the educational leadership program which may lead to certification as a principal, special education director, or curriculum coordinator. The course has two major foci: the characteristics of good leadership and the skills of effective educational leadership. Since many students who enroll in this course are exploring a career transition into administration, a goal of the course is to give participants a clear understanding of the decisions faced by educational leaders, the skills and knowledge necessary to perform effectively, and to give participants an opportunity to explore strategies for balancing the demands of the job, personal commitments, and responsibilities.

Class notes: Class is meeting at the University Center in South Paris / MSAD 17 (email the PDC for permission to attend)

EDU 671 Organizational Behavior

This course will explore the interactions between individuals and the systems in which they live and work. Organizational behavior is the utilization of theory and methods of academic disciplines for understanding and influencing behavior in people in organizations. Individual and group level of analysis are included in covering such topics as diversity, perception, communication, motivation, power, group development and performance, innovation, quality, individual effectiveness and development, leadership, and intergroup behavior.

Class notes: Class is meeting at Noble Middle School (email the PDC for permission to attend)

PDS 555 Special Education Mentorship

PDS 555 is a semester-long two-part online course taken in conjunction with a yearlong supervised school- or agency-based mentorship for conditionally certified teachers participating in the Maine Alternative Certification and Mentoring program (MACM). Topics and activities for the course are determined by the MACM program. Participants enroll for the course each semester.

Class notes: This course is open to teachers in the Maine Alternative Certification and Mentoring (MACM) program ONLY. It is not for transitionally certified OR new conditionally certified teachers who are also enrolled in a pre-service or certificate program and are enrolled in an internship/student teaching semester. FMI, please contact Valerie Smith at or visit the MACM site: