By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal
Pontotoc Middle School sixth-grade teacher Shanna Daniel readily admits applying to become a Nationally Board Certified Teacher was not easy.
“I would say on a scale from 1 to 10, it is a 10,” she said.
Daniel, who was one of 22 Northeast Mississippi educators to earn such distinction this year, said the rigorous process also made her a better teacher.
“It made me more aware of being flexible enough to meet each student’s needs,” she said. “That is a big task, and the process gives you the tools you need to be successful in meeting needs of all of your learners in your classroom.”
Teachers earn the distinction from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. They must submit an intensive portfolio, including videos of themselves in the classroom, and pass several examinations. The certification is good for 10 years and carries a $6,000 bonus for Mississippi educators.
“It is absolutely an important thing,” said Pontotoc City Schools Superintendent Karen Tutor. “National Board Certification picks out the very best teachers and really looks at what they are doing in the classroom.”
Mississippi had 101 newly certified teachers this year, giving the state a total of 3,420, or about 10 percent of its total teaching force. Nationally, the percentage of Board Certified Teachers is about 3 percent.
Among them were Tupelo teachers DeAnna Rawson and Tritina Siddell, and Lee County’s Kellie Davis (Saltillo), Adrienne Simmons (Guntown) and Tina Turnage (Guntown). Nettleton’s Rebekah Wells also received her certification.
“One of the main things about National Board Certification is you have to reflect on anything you do,” said Simmons. “For every aspect of my teaching, I was thinking, can I do it better, is there a different way I can approach it, am I getting through to my students?”
Turnage said the research she had to do reminded her of a student’s perspective.
“It made me aware again of what it is like to be a student,” she said. “You have to put in so many hours to work and study and listen. You are not only a teacher, you are a student again, and that helps you relate to the kids inside your classroom.”
Tupelo now has 104 Board Certified teachers, according to teacher-reported data in the National Board database. That total ranks third in the state.
“I wanted to better myself as an educator to be more informed about the Common Core standards,” said Siddell, who teaches second grade at Thomas Street Elementary. “I wanted to make sure I understood and could use those standards in my class now.”
Nearly half of this year’s Board Teachers received support from a University of Mississippi program that links them with other applicants and with those who have already received certification.
“We recruit and mentor teachers who are going through the National Board process,” said Jackie Parker, director of the university’s World Class Teacher Program, which had 49 successful candidates this year.
That number could grow next year. The program currently has about 200 participants seeking certification, more than double what it had a year ago.
One group meets regularly in Tupelo inside Church Street Elementary.
Check today’s Daily Journal for a list of teachers who earned board certification.