Issaquah teachers earn national certification

January 11, 2011

By Staff

After hundreds of hours of self-reflection, videotaping their classes and studying for subject tests, 31 teachers in the Issaquah School District have earned their National Board Certification.

This brings the total number of district board certified teachers to 81.

“My goal is to have at least 500 by 2015,” Superintendent Steve Rasmussen said at the school board meeting Dec. 8. “We got to continue to ramp it up … because every student deserves the highest quality of teacher as they go through.”

Teachers spend an average of 400 hours completing the national board requirements in a two-part application: a portfolio with lesson plans, student work samples and a videotape of live classroom teaching, all of which demonstrates the teacher’s impact on student learning; and a written assessment that shows the teacher’s mastery of subject-area knowledge, classroom practices and curriculum design, according to district spokeswoman Sara Niegowski.

A national panel of peers assesses each application.

At $3,000, the process is not cheap, thought it did have its incentives. Teachers received an extra $5,000 per year from Washington state for earning their National Board Certification. However, in her 2011-13 budget, released Dec. 15, Gov. Chris Gregiore proposed eliminating the incentive to save the state $99.5 million.

Some teachers are upset, especially the ones who just qualified for the bonus.

Issaquah High School social studies teacher Josh Moore said the incentive played a direct role in him registering for the program.

“It is sad, but I haven’t spent the money yet, so it’s OK,” he said.

Beaver Lake Middle School humanities and technology teacher Josh Berg said he was disappointed to hear about the governor’s proposed cut. Without the incentive, he said he wouldn’t recommend other teachers to apply for their certification.

There are myriad professional development opportunities available for teachers, and every year Moore said he decides which will most help both him and his students.

National Board Certification is one of the most arduous and costly professional development programs available to teachers.

Though the bonus was a large motivator for him, Moore said he is still glad he did the program.

Moore said he enjoyed working with the other teachers earning their certification. Those who had received a loan from the Issaquah Schools Foundation and Issaquah School District were required to share ideas with their colleagues and work with already-certified mentors.

Teachers who both earn their certification and stay with the district for three years do not have to repay the loan, Moore said.

“As colleagues, we are so busy we don’t get to meet a lot and talk about our craft,” Moore said. “I tend to be a bit of a lone wolf, so if it wasn’t for that part of it, I could certainly see myself whiling away at a coffee shop and working by myself.”

Both he and Berg said they found it difficult to videotape their lessons, but said their students cooperated and supported them throughout the process.

Moore said the yearlong process of applying for his certification prompted him to create more detailed lesson plans that targeted both advanced students and those who needed extra help.

Now, with his certification under his belt, Moore said he takes the process of reflection more seriously.

“It really drove home the practice of reflection and meaningful reflection, not just, ‘Did that go well or not,’ but ‘How did it go well?’

“It’s not that I didn’t reflect before, but it wasn’t as intentional or as focused,” he said. “I felt that it pushed me to really examine myself and my teaching.”

National Board Certified teachers

  • Alice Badgley, music, Grand Ridge Elementary
  • Kimberly Bailey, math, Pacific Cascade Middle
  • Patricia Banashak, science, Issaquah Middle
  • Josh Berg, humanities/technology, Beaver Lake Middle
  • Kelly Brunell, third grade, Maple Hills Elementary
  • Shona Campbell, language arts, Pacific Cascade Middle
  • Larissa Davis, fourth grade, Cougar Ridge Elementary
  • Shelly Dolen, kindergarten, Grand Ridge Elementary
  • Ellen Ferrin, second grade, Challenger Elementary
  • Patricia Foryan, fourth grade, Sunny Hills Elementary
  • Laura Gacayan, fourth grade, Clark Elementary
  • Heather Greninger, humanities, Beaver Lake Middle
  • Olga Haider, science, Issaquah Middle
  • Kristin Johnsen, humanities, Issaquah Middle
  • Jessica Johnson, social studies, Liberty High
  • Carrie Junke, science, Maywood Middle
  • Mary Jo Keller, fourth grade, Newcastle Elementary
  • Julie Larsen, English, Liberty High
  • Anna Loftis, humanities, Pacific Cascade Middle
  • Laura Matheny, language arts, Skyline High
  • Ross Matheny, humanities, Maywood Middle
  • Joshua Moore, social studies, Issaquah High
  • Darrel Nichols, fifth grade, Grand Ridge Elementary
  • Erin Perea, fifth-grade Science/Tech, Cascade Ridge Elementary
  • Michelle Pickard, science/ASB, Issaquah Middle
  • Benjamin Reed, math, Issaquah High
  • Tonja Reischl, English, Liberty High
  • Jeremy Ritzer, social studies, Issaquah High
  • Carolyn Santos, humanities/art, Beaver Lake Middle
  • Jessica Sullivan, fifth grade, Creekside Elementary
  • Stephanie Tolonen, humanities, Maywood Middle
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