By Nancy Covert
“The National Board process is a great way to share with more people (the knowledge) that today’s effective libraries are not the same places they were just a few years ago,” according to Steilacoom High School librarian Teri Litt. Ms. Litt is one of nine SHSD teachers who have successfully completed the rigorous National Board Certification for Professional Teaching Standards this past month.
Steilacoom’s 2010 group of NB educators includes Lily Page, Rachel Croft, Kristen Barton, Russell Rice, Amanda Gates, and Brett Bradshaw. Also Teri Litt, Louann Stalder and Michelle Salgado. They are the second group of Steilacoom teachers to receive the certification.
Kevin Schmidt opted for a different route to certification, completing one year of the process. National Board certified teachers Carole Gonglewski and Jaclyn Shope were cohort facilitators for the district’s teachers.
Carole said that she is extremely proud of the recent NBTC’s. “They all worked incredibly hard to achieve certification, forfeiting many holidays, evenings, and weekends to complete their written portfolios.
Previous Steilacoom teachers who earned their NBTC are Bob Mize, Teri Bader and Lanae Olson.
“It is estimated that candidates put in an average of 400 hours of work on the National Board Certification process. These teachers demonstrated perseverance, dedication, and commitment to a valuable professional development opportunity,’ Carole added.
Each of the teachers agreed that it was challenging, but worth the effort. Becoming Board Certified was one way to demonstrate to ones-self about his/her abilities as a teacher.
Having challenged themselves, they are more confident about their own abilities to educate others.
Each of the teachers who were certified has been teaching for ten years or more.
Lily Page, Saltar’s Point Elementary, says that going through the process “taught me a lot about integrating subjects.” It goes beyond classroom teaching, she explained. Completing the process “validates her decision to become a teacher” and will aid her as she prepares for her administrative credentials.
Kristen Barton, another Saltar’s Point teacher, said that the National Board process helped her be “more reflective” about what she is doing as a teacher.
Figuring out the requirements and what they (the assessors) were looking for was the hardest work of my life.” Barton said. “The test was most stressful.”
Rachel Croft, also at Saltar’s Point, said that the process, if tackled on one’s own, “can be a very lonely road,” Having others going through the process at the same time provides an opportunity for teachers to support one another. Now that the process is behind, she is “excited about the opportunities that will open up to me.”
‘”We all appreciate the support we received from Steilacoom Historical School District (the board reimbursed the teacher candidates for their test costs, provided substitutes for teacher candidates when they had to be out of the classroom and to the Washington Education Association which has done a lot for us.”
“I am looking forward to what this (the experience) will help me do for my students.”
Litt, who is the district’s sole certificated librarian, explained her decision to work for the National Board Certification process.
‘I decided to go for my National Board Certification as my next level of professional accomplishment. I already have my master’s degree, and I still have about ten years of teaching ahead of me. I’m pretty much self-directed in my goal setting and achievement, which is a huge part of being a teacher-librarian. Each day is unique. Even if I come to school with a plan or a schedule, different things always come up: a student who needs specific help with a project, making technology work, a teacher with an idea to implement, discussing books and challenges with whoever happens to pass through that day…they’re all opportunities to make a difference for someone, and I value that interaction. I want to be prepared and experienced so my suggestions or solutions are worthwhile, and help people learn and grow themselves.
In assessing her Librarian role, Litt says that, “because of the spotlight that the Board process puts on student achievement, they reinforce that libraries aren’t just quiet places to study, they are integral to meaningful education, now and for life.
Also, many people do not realize that school librarians are actually certificated teachers, meaning we’ve earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and have often taught in classrooms before moving to the library.
My teaching experience means that I have a sense of what teachers’ priorities are, based on their time constraints and responsibilities, what I can offer because of my specialized training that isn’t available from other subject preparation, and my school-wide perspective. I see students enter as ninth graders, leave as graduates, struggle in one subject and shine in another, which few classroom teachers get to observe or realize.
I also have to acknowledge that, unlike other certification areas, I could not have been successful on this endeavor without the cooperation and support of the classroom teachers who shared their students with me for my portfolio projects, videotaping, research projects, and so on. The collaboration of my colleagues made it work, and the opportunity to work with teacher-librarians from other districts was priceless.
Read more about the National Board Process at www.nbpts.org.