Professional Development Center

Fall 2020 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 with fall foliage

Some 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

Fall Course Flyer (PDF)

PDS 513 Integrating Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction & Social Emotional Intelligence in the Classroom - Registration form (PDF)

Class #50599; Nancy Hathaway, instructor; 3 graduate credits; online synchronous via Zoom
Saturdays 8-11 am, Sep 19-Nov 7, 2020 (Oct 31 meet 8 am-1 pm); some asynchronous work expected

Students will develop Mindfulness skills to integrate into the school setting for themselves and for their students. The emphasis is on integrating Mindfulness into the classroom through modeling to help develop emotional and social skills. 

PDS 514 Integrating Mindfulness-based Compassionate Communication into Education - Registration form (PDF)

Class #50982; Nancy Hathaway, instructor; 3 graduate credits; online synchronous via Zoom
Tuesdays 4-7 pm, Sep 22-Nov 10, 2020 (plus Sun, 11/8, 8 am-1 pm); some asynchronous work expected

Having a foundation in mindfulness knowledge, study, practice, and skills, the student will have the essential beginnings to study and practice this language which has as its core empathy for oneself and others and one's experience rather than from evaluation, blame, advice, judgments. This language is conducive to use in all aspects of education as it gives language to respect, non-judgment, compassion for self and others whether students, colleagues, school staff, and parents.

Prerequisites: Previous 3 credit or week long Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction course (UMA/USM/UM) or Instructor permission.

*PDS 526 Exploration, Principles, and Ethics of Animal Assisted Interventions & Anthrozoology - Registration form (PDF), Course Flyer (PDF)

Class #50600; Clare Thomas-Pino, instructor; 3 graduate credits; online asynchronous
August 31 – December 11, 2020 (no class meetings)

Students will gain an understanding of the various roles animals can play in counseling, education, health and wellbeing, & the clear legal & ethical boundaries in the differentiation between educational, physical, & mental health practitioners of AAI. Emphasis will be placed upon understanding animal behavior & the human-animal bond as essential components of AAI.

*This course is offered as a 3-credit graduate course, but it is also available in a modified format for CEUs. This is a more cost-effective option for tight budgets - $600 for 3.5 CEUs. Register at this link or contact the PDC. See also this CEU course information sheet (PDF) for more information.

PDS 551 Fostering Resilience, Competency, & Safety: Effective Strategies for Teaching Struggling Students - Registration form (PDF)

Class #50304; Karen Suhrhoff, instructor; 3 graduate credits; online synchronous via Zoom
Thursdays 4-6:30 pm, September 10, 2020-June 3, 2021 (class meeting dates updated 7/24)
Class meets 9/10, 9/24, 10/15, 10/29, 11/12, 12/10, 1/21, 2/11, 2/25, 3/11, 4/8, 5/6, 5/20, and 6/3

This year-long course will provide practicing teachers and school faculty the knowledge and skills that will assist in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of practical and effective strategies to address students' social and emotional health and skill deficits, while fostering resiliency, competency, engagement and safety for all students in the classroom.


Cohort Courses

Contact the PDC if you would like to register for any of these courses. Non-cohort students may be registered as space allows.

EDU 607 Teacher Research in Literacy

The purpose of this course is to enable students to become generators of new contextualized knowledge through their own classroom-based research. Students will be introduced to major research paradigms and will learn and practice techniques of data collection and analysis. Naturalistic methods of studying literacy and language learning in real classroom contexts will be emphasized. Each student will generate a research question, design an empirical research study that will help answer the question, collect and analyze sample data, and summarize findings or revisions necessary to improve the study. The class will function as a community of researchers; a substantial portion of class time will be spent working in small groups. Prerequisites: EDU 565, EDU 620, or EDU 559 and EDU 566, EDU 626 or EDU 557 and open to matriculated students in the MSEd. in Literacy or TESOL, or by program permission.

Class notes: Class is primarily for students in the Oxford Hills Master's in Literacy cohort. Email the PDC for permission to register.

PDS 555 Special Education Mentorship

PDS 555 is a semester-long online course taken in conjunction with a 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.

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: