Professional Development System


Rebecca West Burns, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
The University of South Florida

Dr. Rebecca West Burns received her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the Pennsylvania State University in 2002. Her career began as an elementary teacher in Pennsylvania where she taught sixth in an elementary school while also completing her Master’s degree (2008) in Curriculum and Instruction, Science Education. She was awarded the Penn State University College of Education Alumni Association Outstanding New Graduate Award (2005). It was during this time that her passion for empowering teachers and wanting to prepare high quality teachers began.

Fueled by the desire to make a larger impact, Dr. Burns returned to the Penn State University to work alongside teachers, school administrators, and university faculty in their nationally recognized professional development school (PDS) program. Being a member of the PDS community created opportunities to engage in cutting-edge research while still working with children and teachers. She saw firsthand the value of collaboration and the power of how school-university partnerships can truly transform education. During this time, she received the 2010 Arthur Blumberg Scholar Award from the Council of Professors of Instructional Supervision and the 2011 Andrew V. Kozak Fellowship Award for Leadership, Research, and Service from Phi Delta Kappa.

Today, Dr. Burns’ continues her passion of uniting schools and universities to make a difference in the lives of teachers and children. Her research and scholarship lie at the intersection of supervision, clinically rich teacher education, and school-university partnerships where she examines the clinical pedagogy used to prepare teachers in clinical settings, the hybrid roles needed to enact clinically rich teacher education in school-university partnerships, and how supervision in school-university partnerships can develop teacher leadership capacity to renew schools and colleges of education. Her work has been published in peer-refereed journals such as The Teacher Educator, Action in Teacher Education, Phi Delta Kappa, the Peabody Journal of Education, School-University Partnerships, and Teacher Education and Practice.

As a nationally recognized, she has served in leadership positions for several national organizations. She was the 2015 Chair of the American Education Research Association Professional Development School Research Special Interest Group and will be the 2018 President of the Council of Professors of Instructional Supervision. She is the co-convener for the Association of Teacher Educators and the National Association for Professional Development Schools (NAPDS) Joint Task Force. She is actively involved in NAPDS as a past elected member of the Board of Directors and currently serving as Chair of the Policy and External Relations Committee.

During her tenure at the University of South Florida, the Elementary Education Program received the 2014 Exemplary PDS Achievement Award from the National Association for Professional Development Schools, the 2014 Distinguished Program in Teacher Education from the Association for Teacher Educators, and the 2014 Spirit of Partnership Award from the University of South Carolina. Other awards include the Penn State University Alumni Association Early Career Achievement Award (2013) and the University of South Florida Outstanding Community Engaged Teaching Award (2016).

As a community engaged scholar dedicated to school improvement, Dr. Burns is doing the work she loves and loving the work she does. She truly believes that schools and universities are better together.