Sacramento State will partner with River Charter Schools, a Yolo County charter school district, to prepare the next generation of educators, develop new and innovative curricula, and serve the local community.

A more enduring student-University bond also could result from the collaboration.

The partnership was announced during the late-August groundbreaking of River Charter Schools’ newest campus, Lighthouse Charter School, in West Sacramento.

Through the collaboration, River Charter Schools will receive access to counseling services provided by Sacramento State graduate students, professional development for its teachers, and a pipeline of educational professionals into positions with the district.

Sacramento State will gain a clinical- and field-experience site where teaching, counseling, and other education students can get real-world experience. In addition, the University will have a dedicated space at the Lighthouse campus for faculty and students to meet, as well as for faculty to interact with district teachers and learn insights that can inform curriculum development.

Alexander Sidorkin, dean of Sacramento State's College of Education, calls the partnership with River Charter Schools "a new model."

“This partnership is a wonderful way for us to strengthen our ties with the entire West Sacramento educational community,” said Alexander Sidorkin, dean of Sacramento State’s College of Education. “We are appreciative of River Charter School’s willingness to provide significant support to our students who will be placed there for field experiences. I am also excited that we will be piloting a new model for inter-professional preparation, through which our future teachers, psychologists, counselors, and social workers will learn to work as a team.”

Steve Lewis, the superintendent of the River Charter Schools district, said the partnership is based on a previous collaboration he had with Sacramento State while a public school teacher, one that provided clear benefits for university students, who gained critical real-world job skills, as well as the K-12 students.

“If a student’s social and emotional needs are not being addressed, there is going to be a direct impact on academics,” Lewis said. “If we can get these kids to have a connection with a university student or a faculty member, that raises their confidence. There is something that changes that makes everyone successful.”

A key part of the partnership is serving the surrounding community, as well. Sacramento State will establish an extension branch of its Center for Counseling and Diagnostic Services, which since 1968 has provided low-cost counseling services to local residence. Services – including individual, couples, family, and child counseling – will be provided by graduate students in Sacramento State’s counselor education and special education, rehabilitation and school psychology departments, providing them with experience to prepare them for careers in those fields.

“The extension site will provide our students with more opportunities to conduct counseling and assessment services in a high-need community, which will enhance their practical understanding of the skills they will use once (they are) licensed and credentialed,” said Elisabeth Liles, an associate professor of counselor education and chair of the Graduate and Professional Studies Department.

At Lighthouse, Sacramento State also will pilot its model for inter-professional dialogue, through which future teachers, counselors, psychologists, and social workers will share the school as a site for field experience, while working to learn each other’s professional languages and how to best work as a team.

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For more information about the College of Education, visit https://www.csus.edu/coe/. To learn more about the Center for Counseling and Diagnostic Services, visit https://www.csus.edu/coe/ccds/. - Jonathan Morales