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Eight county teachers earn National Board Certification
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National Board Certified Teachers are (front, from left) Amber Adkins, Rebecca Allen, Molly Follweiler, (back, from left) Elizabeth Jones, JoAnna Griffith, Megan Washburn, Tiffany Stovall and Amy Mitchell. (Contributed photo)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer

Eight Henry County Public Schools teachers who have earned National Board Certification, an advanced teaching credential, were recognized at a banquet Tuesday night.

The division’s 2013-14 National Board Certified Teachers are Amber Adkins of Drewry Mason Elementary; Rebecca Allen and JoAnna Griffith, both of Rich Acres Elementary; Molly Follweiler of Rich Acres and Drewry Mason elementary schools; Elizabeth Jones of Bassett High; Amy Mitchell of Mount Olivet Elementary; Tiffany Stovall of Sanville Elementary; and Megan Washburn. Washburn previously taught at Stanleytown and Carver elementary schools and is on leave this year, pursuing a doctorate in education.

National Board certification is a program of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, also known as National Board. According to the board’s website, “Similar to certification in fields like medicine, National Board Certification is a rigorous, peer-reviewed process that ensures that Board-certified teachers have proven skills to advance student achievement.”

As part of the process, teachers must analyze their teaching methods and students’ needs, submit videos of their teaching, and provide student work samples that demonstrate growth and achievement.

In his remarks, county schools Superintendent Jared Cotton told the new National Board Certified Teachers, “You are an inspiration to your students and an inspiration to your colleagues.”

He commended them for the sacrifices they made during the process, such as giving up time with their families. “We are proud of your accomplishments,” he said.

Guest speaker Leanna Blevins, associate director and chief academic officer at the New College Institute, praised the teachers for going above and beyond, and for taking “the road less traveled” (quoting poet Robert Frost).

“You chose to excel, to make a difference,” Blevins said.

“Be proud of yourself for what you have done,” said Joe DeVault, chairman of the Henry County School Board. “Your students will reap the rewards of this. The school system will reap the rewards of this.”

When asked the most satisfying thing about earning National Board Certification:

Adkins said, “... Being recognized by my peers as an accomplished teacher.”

Similarly, Follweiler said, “... Being recognized for all of the hard work I put in over these past few years. Earning this certification was a grueling and sometimes stressful process, but I feel that it has helped me to grow as a teacher by encouraging me to think more about how I plan my lessons and interact with my students and the community.

For Allen, “The challenge of earning my National Board Certification forced me to rely on the experience and support of others in new ways, and I am most grateful to my coworkers, students, family, and friends for their wisdom and encouragement.”

She added the school division has been “phenomenally” supportive in providing professional development opportunities.

Griffith said she always tells her own two children not to quit once they start something. “The National Boards process gave me the opportunity to live by my own advice as my children watched,” she said.

There were several times during the process that Griffith wanted to give up, she said, adding that it took her three years to earn National Board Certification. “At one point, my husband looked at me and said, ‘What would you say to the kids if they wanted to quit?’ It was then that I knew I had to continue on and achieve the goal.”

Jones, a French teacher, said the process “fostered a synergy among (or pulled together) my own educational practices past, present, and future. For me it engendered a new perspective on world language education today.”

Mitchell said she was able to evaluate her teaching and provide more effective teaching strategies for her students. The process “enabled me to grow professionally and challenge myself as an educator,” she said.

Likewise, Stovall said, “... It has allowed me to reflect on my methodology of teaching. This directly impacts the students in my classroom. The National Board process allowed me to take a closer look at my practice and the importance of realizing the why and how of what I teach.”

Washburn said, “Through examining my teaching I was able to find new and better ways to help my students improve in their reading. Seeing the growth that they made because of this process was rewarding.”

Each of the eight teachers received a plaque and a gift bag.

DeWitt House, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, said each recipient will receive stipends from the state and division totaling $7,500 the first year and stipends totaling $5,000 for each of the next nine years.

Part of the money to fund the National Board process came from the Harvest Foundation, House said.

Counting the eight teachers honored Tuesday night, 35 teachers in the division have earned National Board Certification, House said.

About 60 people attended the banquet, which was at 37 East uptown.


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