Richmond County Schools recently recognized six educators who completed their National Board Certification this school year. Cassandra Crump, Ellerbe Middle School – library media, early childhood to early adolescence; Michelle Denham, Washington Street – library media, early childhood to early adolescence; Kari Glenn, East Rockingham –generalist, early childhood; Christina Mabe, West Rockingham – exceptional needs specialist; Deborah Peacock, Fairview Heights – generalist, early childhood; and Janice Russell, science – adolescence to young adulthood all received the prestigious honor.
These teachers were recognized during the April meeting of the Richmond County Board of Education. Bess Shuler, beginning teacher and national board certification coordinator for Richmond County Schools, has earned her National Board Certification and knows what teachers must accomplish to earn it. She works closely with the National Board candidates and offers support to them as needed.
“Having also earned National Board certification, I know first-hand what each of these teachers has experienced. A lot of time goes into the process, both in and out of the classroom,” Shuler said. “We are very appreciative of what they have done, and we hope to continue to increase the number of teachers who complete this process in Richmond County.”
National Board Certification, offered by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS), recognizes accomplished teachers in North Carolina’s classrooms and across the nation. According to the NBPTS website, the certification process is based on high and rigorous standards that evaluate teaching practice through performance-based assessments; and the ultimate result is improved performance and achievement for North Carolina’s students.
National Board Certification was first offered in 1994, and eight North Carolina teachers received this important professional credential during that year. According to the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, the number of North Carolina teachers receiving the certification has grown dramatically since then, and today equals over 10 percent of North Carolina’s teaching force. North Carolina leads the nation in the number of National Board Certified teachers, creating a strong network of NBC teachers across the state.
Janice Russell, science teacher at Richmond Early College High School, who is now certified in science education from adolescence to adulthood, said the process was one of the most important experiences of her teaching career.
“The experience was an eye-opening one,” Russell said. “Before this process, my lesson plans were strictly based on the goals and objectives that the State of North Carolina said I should cover. What I learned is that there is so much more to consider. I found that teaching should not be exclusively based on a subject or a particular curriculum, but rather on the healthy growth and development of a child … one single child … with educational, social, and emotional needs that are uniquely his or her own. I was quite humbled by this experience. I only wish I had pursued National Boards earlier in my career.”
Superintendent George Norris said he is pleased to see a growing number of local teachers take interest in the National Board process.
“We congratulate these teachers, and all of our teachers who have earned National Board Certification,” Norris said. “The willingness to take on this rigorous process shows true dedication to student learning and best teaching practices.”
In the past, the state covered the expense for a teacher to complete the NBC process. Budgetary constraints forced the state to develop a loan process by which teachers can achieve National Boards. Teachers do not have to be concerned with the loan until 13 months after the beginning date and, with a low interest rate, monthly re-payment of the loan is relatively low. Teachers can choose the loan option or pay for it on their own.
The current 12 percent pay raise for teachers still represents a potential substantial return on the investment. Michelle Denham, media specialist at Washington Street Elementary who is now certified in the area library media early childhood to early adolescence, offered a few words of wisdom for other teachers who are starting the process.
“When you’ve almost completed the writing portions of your entries, ask at least two people to proofread and make suggestions on how to state your case as clearly and concisely as possible,” Denham said. “Reflect on your teaching practices always. Evaluate your lessons and strive to make improvements at every turn.”