By Chaning Green
University of Mississippi
OXFORD – Veteran educator Tammy Kirkland has joined the University of Mississippi School of Education as director of the UM World Class Teaching Program.
The Pine Grove native takes the helm from the program’s previous leader, Jackie Parker, who retired in May.
Designed for working teachers, the WCTP helps Mississippi educators become National Board Certified Teachers from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The credential is a mark of excellence among educators and comes with a $6,000 pay raise funded by the state Legislature. Educators must pass a series of assessment exams and a portfolio review to become a NBCT.
Kirkland, who also will serve as an instructor in teacher education, begins her leadership in the wake of two significant events for the program. Last spring, UM led the nation in NBCT recruitment with 409 teachers enrolled in WCTP. Meanwhile, the NBPTS has revamped the process of earning the credential.
“Research conducted by the NBPTS indicated there are two main reasons educators are not participating in or completing the process: time and money,” explained Kirkland, who became a NBCT in 2008. “Educators initially are concerned and somewhat hesitant when they hear about the change, but that’s only because they are unfamiliar with the process. It’s my mission to educate them and explain it is being changed for their benefit.”
The new process will be rolled out over a three-year period. As a result, the certification process will temporally require three years rather than one. All components, formally known as entries, have been updated, reducing the number from five to four components. Teachers will be allowed to pay for the components individually, rather than all at once. By 2017, the NBPTS will give educators an option of staying with the three-year layout or completing all the components in a more flexible timeline.
During the 2013-2014 academic year, the WTCP will prioritize helping teachers understand the new procedures.
Kirkland earned a master’s degree in educational leadership and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from UM. Since 2003, she has taught at New Albany Elementary School. She also has served as a middle childhood generalist mentor for the university’s WCTP.