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College of Education

PDS Fellows

The College of Education offers doctoral fellowships to support practicing teachers and administrators within the Professional Development Schools (PDS and PDS-D) network toward completion of an Ed.D. in Educational Practice and Innovation.

History and Vision

Since 2017, the PDS Fellowship program has aimed to enhance PDS scholarly productivity, extend collaboration between UofSC and PDS partners, and support teacher leadership in using action research or improvement science to address relevant and pressing needs within school settings. A unique feature among peer institutions with PDS models, the fellowship has become increasingly competitive.



Reinforcing the PDS Network’s existing partnerships, PDS fellowships encompass a multidirectional set of expectations: 

  • Each PDS Fellow must remain in good academic standing, center their dissertation on a problem of practice within the PDS site, and strive to present and/or publish their findings.
  • The College of Education provides graduate tuition reduction credits toward the Ed.D. and a yearly stipend to offset additional expenses, along with dissertation support from the site-based liaison and the fellows liaison.
  • The PDS Site agrees to accommodate the fellow’s job-embedded dissertation research and encourage dissemination of findings.



Stay tuned for information on the next application window. The deadlines for applications are March 1, June 1, and November 1, as long as funds are available.

Apply for a PDS Fellowship

Note: Fellowships will only be granted to admitted students. Applicants who are not enrolled in one of the four concentrations (Curriculum Studies, Learning Design and Technologies, STEM Education, and Education Systems Improvement) should also apply to the Ed.D. in Educational Practice and Innovation.


Being a PDS Fellow bolsters my credibility as an educational leader.

— Kim Smalls, Killian Elementary teacher and Learning Design and Technologies student
Kim Smalls


Current Fellows

Name PDS Concentration

Brooke Biery

Dutch Fork High

Curriculum Studies

Jennifer Cardenas

Meadowfield Elementary

Curriculum Studies

Kat Degar

School District Five

Learning Design and Technologies

Mary Gaskins 

Lexington One

Education Systems Improvement

Aisja Jones

Killian Elementary

Learning Design and Technologies

Shalonya Knotts-Holiday

Killian Elementary

Curriculum Studies

Maite Porter

C.E. Williams Middle

Education Systems Improvement

Charity Simmons

Irmo High

Education Systems Improvement

Kim Smalls

Killian Elementary

Learning Design and Technologies

Rebecca Valencia

Dutch Fork High

Learning Design and Technologies


Former Fellow Dissertations

Gaillard, N. D. (2018). The impact of number talks on third-grade students’ number sense development and mathematical proficiency [Doctoral dissertation, University of South Carolina]. Scholar Commons.

Harris, R. L. (2021). Student perceptions of culturally relevant pedagogy and the impact on teacher-student relationships [Doctoral dissertation, University of South Carolina]. Scholar Commons.

James, A. L. (2018). What are the effects of curriculum compacting on students’ ability to use higher order thinking? [Doctoral dissertation, University of South Carolina]. Scholar Commons.

Johnson, M. (2022). Peer observation and feedback as a professional development structure [Doctoral dissertation, University of South Carolina].

Meyers, B. C. (2021). Virtual interactive notebooking with gifted learners in an inquiry-based social studies classroom: A mixed-methods action research study on higher-order thinking and student motivation [Doctoral dissertation, University of South Carolina]. Scholar Commons.

Scott, C. B. (2021). Practitioner inquiry: Supporting teachers during a national pandemic [Doctoral dissertation, University of South Carolina]. Scholar Commons.

Suber, S. M. (2021). Shattering the glass slipper: An investigation into nontraditional gender roles and norms in the elementary classroom [Doctoral dissertation, University of South Carolina]. Scholar Commons.

Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.