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Teachers honored with banquet for earning highest certification
Fourteen Henry County teachers were honored at a banquet Tuesday night for earning the highest teaching certification possible — National Board certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Pictured are (front row, from left) Velaine Bonebright, Charles Byrd, Dorothy M. Carter, Debra M. Chaney, Kim Clark, Kim Engel, Rebekah Carter Flora, (back row) Beth Hering, Kathryn C. Ingram, Willie Martin, Jodie K. Rakes, Hannah L. Sullivan, Sheana Wingfield and Jessica Witcher. (Contributed photo)
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer
Fourteen Henry County teachers who have achieved the highest certification possible — National Board certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards — were honored at a banquet Tuesday night.
Schools Superintendent Jared Cotton and keynote speaker Angeline Godwin, president of Patrick Henry Community College, both praised the recipients for, among other things, accomplishing something nationally significant, striving to be even better teachers, inspiring students and for the sacrifices they made during the rigorous certification process.
“High-quality teachers do not accept the status quo from their students,” Cotton said.
“Inspiring a mind is the great calling,” Godwin said.
At the end of her speech, Godwin used her right hand to pat herself on her left shoulder to illustrate that recipients need to pat themselves on the back. She also called for the community to recognize their accomplishment and the value of educators.
“By using professional development funds in this manner, the school board and administration have made a true investment in our teachers that will benefit our students and other teachers for years to come,” Cotton stated in a email.
The school system provided resources to teachers pursuing their National Board certification, including meetings with a current Henry County teacher, Pamela Drews, who already had achieved National Board certification, according to information provided by Melany Stowe, the school division’s coordinator for parent and community outreach.
The process takes about a year to complete. Teachers begin by creating a portfolio detailing their teaching strategies with in-depth examples, including videos, and they must pass a series of tests. The certification process is very rigorous and once certification is achieved teachers must seek re-certification every 10 years, according to information from Stowe.
About 100 people attended the banquet at 37 East.
Sitting at the same dining table as Cotton were recipient Kim Engel and her family. In an interview, Engel, an English teacher at Bassett High School, said for five or six months she spent three or four hours every day on her National Board certification work.
“It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” she said, adding that the assignments were very analytical. Sometimes her husband, John III, would take their boys, John IV, 16, and Luke, 10, out to eat or to play ball so she would have quiet time, she said.
“It was definitely worth it ,” she said of the work she had to do for certification.
“I learned just how much of an impact I have on my students by connecting English and class lessons to the local community as well as the global community,” she stated. “I also gained a focused insight into ways to improve the learning experience for each individual student depending upon their specific learning style.”
Engel has worked for the school division for five years. She earned an undergraduate degree from the University of South Carolina and is pursuing a graduate degree.
Sitting a few tables away from the Engels were Hannah L. Sullivan, a kindergarten teacher at Axton Elementary School, and her mother, Sheana Wingfield. a first-grade teacher at Rich Acres Elementary, both of whom earned National Board certification.
“It made the celebration that much sweeter,” Sullivan said, adding that several family members were with them at the banquet.
Wingfield said she and Sullivan “bounced ideas off each other” as they did the work required for certification.
“Becoming a National Board Certified Teacher helped me focus on teaching using interdisciplinary strategies, engaging parents and the community, and reflecting on my teaching to increase student success,” Wingfield stated.
The certification process “has helped me become a better teacher by changing the way I develop new lessons and reflect upon lessons taught,” Sullivan stated.
Sullivan, who earned undergraduate and graduate degrees at Radford University, has worked for the school division for 10 years. Wingfield, who obtained her undergraduate degree at Radford University after her daughter, has worked for the school division for six years.
“National Board Certification was a process that required me to examine my teaching practices. It helped me to reflect on the strategies that worked and to analyze what didn’t work so I can improve future lessons,” recipient Debra M. Chaney stated. She is a special education teacher at Bassett High School. She received an undergraduate degree from Greensboro College and has worked for the school division for 15 years.
“The more I learn, the more I realize what I need to learn,” recipient Dorothy M. Carter, an English teacher at Magna Vista High School, stated. “That is healthy. When someone thinks he/she has reached a peak in his/her educational process, that person is no longer teachable. Teaching others is a new learning experience with every new student, and I, as the teacher, must remain a learner in order to benefit my students.”
Carter has worked for the school division for 15 years. She earned an undergraduate degree at Mansfield University and a graduate degree at Hollins University. She is president of the Henry County Education Association.
Other recipients are:
• Velaine Bonebright, librarian at Drewry Mason Elementary School, who has worked for the school division for seven years. She received an undergraduate degree at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a graduate degree at Georgia Southern University.
• Charles Byrd, assistant principal at Laurel Park Middle School, who has worked for the school division for seven years. He earned an undergraduate degree at N.C. State University and a graduate degree at Radford University. (He was a teacher when he started the certification process, Stowe said.)
• Kim Clark, a second-grade teacher at Rich Acres Elementary School who has worked for the school division for five years. She earned undergraduate and graduate degrees at Averett University.
• Rebekah Carter Flora, fifth-grade math teacher at Stanleytown Elementary School who has worked for the school division for seven years. She earned an undergraduate degree at Averett University and a graduate degree at Radford University.
• Beth Hering, fifth-grade teacher at John Redd Smith Elementary School who has worked for the school division for 18 years. She earned an undergraduate degree at Edinboro University and a graduate degree at Radford University.
• Kathryn C. Ingram, an English teacher at Fieldale-Collinsville Middle School who has worked for the school division for 13 years. She did her undergraduate studies at Ferrum College and Averett College and earned a graduate degree from the University of Virginia.
• Willie Martin, a history teacher at Bassett High School who has worked for the school division for 32 years. He earned an undergraduate degree at Averett University and a graduate degree at Cambridge College.
• Jodie K. Rakes, reading specialist at Sanville Elementary School who has worked for the school division for 15 years. She earned an undergraduate degree at Liberty University and a graduate degree at Radford University.
• Jessica Witcher, geometry inclusion teacher at Bassett High School who has worked for the school division for 14 years. She earned an undergraduate degree at James Madison University and a graduate degree at Old Dominion University.
“Be proud of what you have done,” Joe DeVault, chairman of the Henry County School Board, told the recipients. He also told them they are now models and mentors for other teachers. He noted the school division now has 27 National Board Certified Teachers and hopefully will have 10 more next school year. He thanked Harvest Foundation for its financial support for professional development.