Learning to teach with the best

January 5, 2010

By Chantelle Lusebrink

Twenty-one Issaquah teachers earn National Board Certification

If you thought cramming for an SAT or advanced physics courses was tough, try spending more than 400 hours preparing videos, lesson plans and presentations before placing it neatly before a panel of national experts.Twenty-one Issaquah School District teachers from throughout the district took that challenge and have passed with flying colors.

The teachers recently received the nation’s highest certificate in teaching achievements — their National Board Certification. They join more than 1,248 of their colleagues in the state in earning the certificates this year.

Washington state ranked fifth for the most teachers in the nation earning certification this year, according to a press release from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Nationwide, 8,900 teachers earned the certification this year.

“National Board Certification has made me a more intentional teacher,” Chelsea Dziedzic, a Grand Ridge Elementary School teacher, wrote in an e-mail. “It has validated the work I do and has increased my confidence in making instructional decisions. I feel I have a stronger content base and an improved ability to meet the needs of a diverse classroom of learners.”

The National Board Certification process is the only certification that compares a teacher’s knowledge and skills with a national set of professional standards, developed by the academic and teaching communities.

The rigorous process asks teachers to compile a portfolio, including individual lesson plans, a video of classroom teaching and student work samples, each of which had to demonstrate how the teacher impacted his or her student’s learning.

Each teacher also had to take a written assessment that demonstrated his or her mastery of a subject area, classroom skills, knowledge base, curriculum design and student learning.

Many have already begun to incorporate the valuable lessons they learned from the certification process into their classrooms.

“After completing the process, I found myself reflecting more on my teaching,” Jodi Carter, a teacher at Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus, wrote in an e-mail. “Now, after teaching a lesson, I look back on how I can improve the lesson to increase student understanding.”

“The certification process forced me to pause and analyze my teaching practice, and think carefully about how to tailor lessons for my particular students,” Eric Nelson, an Apollo Elementary School teacher, wrote in an e-mail. “It also helped me consider how to get the most out of every lesson by helping students connect ideas across subjects.”

For Kimberly Ralph, a fifth-grade teacher at Endeavour Elementary School, the certification gave her a new personal challenge.

“I wanted to earn my National Board Certification to purposefully challenge myself to meet national teaching standards,” she wrote in an e-mail. “This certification program provided an intense and rigorous learning opportunity for me as a teacher. I knew this certification process would provide deep professional reflection and growth.”

“In my personal and professional life, I am always aiming to improve myself,” Cristina Uramis, an Issaquah High School teacher, wrote in an e-mail. “Through the process of obtaining my National Board Certification, I was able to do just that — improve my teaching and thereby, in turn, help my students.”

Working toward certification, however, was difficult, and time was a huge luxury not many teachers had.

“I was pregnant with my first child for most of the process, and trying to stay motivated to write on the weekends — while feeling nauseous and generally crummy — was definitely a challenge,” Shannon Henderson, a Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus teacher, wrote in an e-mail. “I would like to thank my students from last year for all their patience with a stressed-out teacher, and for being good sports about all the videotaping and data gathering. One of the big reasons I passed was because of their good attitudes and willingness to be active participants in my class.”

“The most difficult experience was the tremendous sacrifice my family made for me to endure this journey,” Dawn Harper, an Issaquah Valley Elementary School teacher, wrote in an e-mail. “I have a young family and they constantly gave the time needed to complete the job with my best effort.”

Teachers choose one of 24 certificates — spanning 15 subjects in various age levels of education — offered by the board.

In addition to long hours, each teacher also paid more than $3,000 to enter the yearlong process. Many took advantage of $500-$1,000 grants from the Issaquah Schools Foundation, the school district and the state to aid them.

“I’m grateful for the financial support of the Issaquah Schools Foundation,” Caroline Friesen, a Pacific Cascade teacher, wrote in an e-mail.

After receiving their certificate, each will receive a $3,500 yearly stipend from the state Legislature.

But it’s the accomplishment that drives teachers to complete the process.

“I’m just proud and relieved to have it done,” Eric Ensey, a Pine Lake Middle School teacher, wrote in an e-mail. “In the midst of it, I thought it would never end. I still get goose bumps when I think about the fact that I’m done!”

National Board

Certified Teachers

The following teachers earned their National Board Certification: (Information for the following teachers was not available prior to The Press’ deadline: Laura Berry, Marla Crouch, Julie Howard, Karen Sunmark, Reyna Yamamoto.)

Jodi Carter

Teaches: Geometry at Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus

Experience: 18 years with the Issaquah School District and Billings Public School District in Montana

Vale Crain Baxter

Teaches: Advanced Placement calculus at Issaquah High School and ballet

Experience: 13 years with the Issaquah School District

Keri Dean

Teaches: Advanced Placement English language/American literature and English 10 at Issaquah High School

Experience: 14 years with the Issaquah, Edmonds, Pasco and Franklin Pierce school districts

Chelsea Dziedzic

Teaches: Fourth grade at Grand Ridge Elementary School

Experience: six years with the Issaquah School District

Eric Ensey

Teaches: middle school language arts, social studies, technology, physical education and multimedia/community outreach at Pine Lake Middle School

Experience: 15 years with the Issaquah School District

Caroline Friesen

Teaches: World studies and guided studies at Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus

Experience: five years with the Issaquah School District

Dawn Harper

Teaches: Third grade at Issaquah Valley Elementary School

Experience: 14 years with the Issaquah and Highline school districts

Shannon Henderson

Teaches: world literature at Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus

Experience: five years with the Issaquah School District

Tia Kleinkopf

Teaches: Fifth grade at Sunny Hills Elementary School

Experience: 17 years with the Issaquah and Mercer Island school districts

Leslie Lederman

Teaches: a teacher on special assignment who trains teachers to integrate technology with their classroom curricula

Experience: 19 years with the Issaquah and Mukilteo school districts

Gayle Melton

Teaches: Third grade at Challenger Elementary School

Experience: 11 years with the Issaquah and Highline school districts

Eric Nelson

Teaches: Fourth-grade, gifted students at Apollo Elementary School

Experience: six years with the Issaquah and Seattle school districts

Kimberly Ralph

Teaches: Fifth-grade, gifted students at Endeavour Elementary School

Experience: 12 years with the Issaquah and Lake Washington school districts

Rebecca Rappin

Teaches: Fourth grade at Grand Ridge Elementary School

Experience: 13 years with the Issaquah and Snoqualmie Valley school districts

Michelle Frindell

Teaches: Honors English and journalism at Skyline High School

Experience: 10 years with the Issaquah School District and Campbell Union School District in San Jose, Calif.

Cristina Uramis

Picture not available

Teaches: Spanish II and III at Issaquah High School

Experience: 13 years with the Issaquah School District and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles

National Board
Certified Teachers
The following teachers earned their National Board Certification: (Information for the following teachers was not available prior to The Press’ deadline: Laura Berry, Marla Crouch, Julie Howard, Karen Sunmark, Reyna Yamamoto.)
Jodi Carter
4Teaches: Geometry at Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus
4Experience: 18 years with the Issaquah School District and Billings Public School District in Montana
Vale Crain Baxter
4Teaches: Advanced Placement calculus at Issaquah High School and ballet
4Experience: 13 years with the Issaquah School District
Keri Dean
4Teaches: Advanced Placement English language/American literature and English 10 at Issaquah High School
4Experience: 14 years with the Issaquah, Edmonds, Pasco and Franklin Pierce school districts
Chelsea Dziedzic
4Teaches: Fourth grade at Grand Ridge Elementary School
4Experience: six years with the Issaquah School District
Eric Ensey
4Teaches: middle school language arts, social studies, technology, physical education and multimedia/community outreach at Pine Lake Middle School
4Experience: 15 years with the Issaquah School District
Caroline Friesen
4Teaches: World studies and guided studies at Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus
4Experience: five years with the Issaquah School District
Dawn Harper
4Teaches: Third grade at Issaquah Valley Elementary School
4Experience: 14 years with the Issaquah and Highline school districts
Shannon Henderson
4Teaches: world literature at Pacific Cascade Freshman Campus
4Experience: five years with the Issaquah School District
Tia Kleinkopf
4Teaches: Fifth grade at Sunny Hills Elementary School
4Experience: 17 years with the Issaquah and Mercer Island school districts
Leslie Lederman
4Teaches: a teacher on special assignment who trains teachers to integrate technology with their classroom curricula
4Experience: 19 years with the Issaquah and Mukilteo school districts
Gayle Melton
4Teaches: Third grade at Challenger Elementary School
4Experience: 11 years with the Issaquah and Highline school districts
Eric Nelson
4Teaches: Fourth-grade, gifted students at Apollo Elementary School
4Experience: six years with the Issaquah and Seattle school districts
Kimberly Ralph
4Teaches: Fifth-grade, gifted students at Endeavour Elementary School
4Experience: 12 years with the Issaquah and Lake Washington school districts
Rebecca Rappin
4Teaches: Fourth grade at Grand Ridge Elementary School
4Experience: 13 years with the Issaquah and Snoqualmie Valley school districts
Michelle Frindell
4Teaches: Honors English and journalism at Skyline High School
4Experience: 10 years with the Issaquah School District and Campbell Union School District in San Jose, Calif.
Cristina Uramis
Picture not available
4Teaches: Spanish II and III at Issaquah High School
4Experience: 13 years with the Issaquah School District and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles
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