TUPELO – Saltillo Primary School reading intervention teacher Kay Smith shared a special moment with her daughter late last month.
For the previous year, both Smith and her daughter, Saltillo Primary kindergarten teacher Candace Bishop, had spent many hours pursuing their National Board Certification. One night, Bishop got online, checked the scores and learned they each had passed.
The next morning, she came to her mother’s house to deliver the news in person. That was followed by a big cheer.
“We were just happy we had passed,” Smith said.
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards released on Tuesday the names of more than 4,000 teachers across the nation who received their board certification this year.
To earn one of the profession’s highest accomplishments, teachers must prove they have demonstrated the board’s standards by submitting a lengthy application and videos of themselves in the classroom. Mississippi educators who earn the designation, which must be renewed every 10 years, receive an annual $6,000 stipend from the state.
Mississippi had 139 new Board Certified Teachers this year, including 38 from Northeast Mississippi. That ranked 10th in the nation.
The state’s total of 3,557 NBCTs ranks seventh nationally and third per capita.
Seven Lee County School District educators earned the designation this year, including Smith and Bishop, Guntown’s Martha Anderson, Mooreville Elementary’s Marsha Gray and Erin Watson, Mooreville High’s Audrey Roby and Saltillo Elementary’s Rennie Smith.
“I feel like it made me a better teacher in that it required me to be a reflective teacher,” Watson said.
Tupelo had five educators to earn the distinction: Thomas Street’s Michelle Guyton, Lawhon’s Amanda Koonlaba and Andrea Watson and Tupelo Middle’s Katherine Holland and Sarah Shows.
“In the education field, there are not a lot of opportunities for advancement, and the National Board process is one of the major ones,” Koonlaba said. “It is not just an award and not just an accomplishment, it is a way of advancing the profession and developing yourself as a professional.”
Holland said she appreciates the support of co-workers throughout the process.
“It is overwhelming to know that I am somewhere on level with where teachers are supposed to be nationwide,” she said.
Jackie Parker directs the University of Mississippi’s World Class Teaching Program, which aids educators through the arduous process. She said just seeking certification helps teachers improve their craft.
“It is the best professional development I’ve ever traveled to as a teacher because you work through the national standards of what accomplished teachers should be able to do,” she said.
Parker advises educators interested in earning their certification to act quickly. The deadline for the 2014 class is May 16. After that, the NBPTS will revamp its process and not certify another class of teachers – except re-takers – until 2017.